Back in February, I hosted a consultation on seniors issues with over 45 seniors in attendance and some lively and worthwhile discussion. Following this, I met with Deb Schulte, the Minister of Seniors to present and discuss the findings from the consultation. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been reaching out and speaking with seniors, and have engaged regularly with Minister Schulte on the financial strains, health risks and social challenges that many seniors are facing right now. As many of you know, throughout this pandemic our government has focused on supporting those who need it most. One of our first announcements for low and modest income seniors was to increase the GST/HST credit which saw an average of $400 per person and $600 per couple. This direct payment required no application and was really targeted to support our seniors. After hearing clearly that our government needed to do more to support our seniors, I advocated for increased financial support to help during this challenging period. Following this, the government announced a $300 one-time (tax free) payment for those eligible for Old Age Security (OAS) and a $200 one-time payment for those on the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Combined with other measures, that is approximately $900 in direct financial support for low-income seniors. My office has been assured by Minister Deb Schulte that these payments will be made very shortly. In addition to these one-time, tax free payments, our government has also invested in many community groups that help support seniors to help deliver food and essential supplies. These investments include:
- $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund to help charities and non-profits deliver essential services to those in need;
- $9 million to United Way Canada;
- $100 million to support food banks and local food organizations;
- enhanced the New Horizons for Seniors Funding to allow previously approved projects to be modified to meet seniors‘ needs during this public health crisis and invested an additional $20 million.
The increase to New Horizons for Seniors Funding will help fund senior services that are delivered through many of the local community organizations. These local organizations, and their programs and services are listed on the Durham Region United Way’s website: https://unitedwaydr.com/seniors-response-fund/ I would also like to emphasize that the issues that seniors are facing outside of COVID-19 are of real concern and continue to be top priority for me. I will continue advocating for solutions and policies that are based on the concerns expressed by Whitby’s seniors and work towards making a positive impact on the quality of life experienced by our seniors.
Member of Parliament for Whitby