04 Jul Reducing Poverty among Seniors
Seniors’ income in Canada has been rising since 1980 with our system of after-tax benefits. So why do we still have seniors living in poverty?
OAS and GIS
For people who do not receive sufficient income from Canada Pension Plan, private pension plans, or personal savings, Canada provides OAS (Old Age Security) based on years lived in Canada, and GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) for low-income individuals, plus possibly a spousal allowance.
But not everybody benefits.
Who is affected?
Three main groups of seniors are most vulnerable to living in poverty:
- newcomers to Canada who don’t qualify for full support from OAS because they haven’t lived here long enough;
- people who have dependent children, such as those raising grandchildren or those with a disabled child;
- people who qualify for support but who don’t apply, or who do not correctly follow application procedures.
As well, unattached individuals, both men and women, are more likely to live in poverty than married couples. This compounds the difficulties for the three main groups cited above.
What to do
The Special Senate Committee on Aging has made several recommendations:
- reduce the residency requirement
- increase the number of countries with which we have social security agreements, so that newcomers can receive benefits from their home country
- increase the GIS to raise low-income individuals above the poverty line
- make it easier for people to apply for benefits they are entitled to
- provide application forms in aboriginal languages, and the languages of larger newcomer populations.In communities, caring individuals and not-for-profit groups can connect with isolated seniors.
Check out the report from the Special Senate Committee on Aging for more details about reducing poverty and other recommendations for an aging population.
Learn how to apply for GIS and the Spousal Allowance at Tax Tips.