PENINSULA ZOOMERS: Support for seniors welcome, but insufficient for many

Federal COVID-19 relief could be better targeted at seniors who need it most

I’m rich!

Well, not exactly, but I am $300 tax-free richer thanks to the federal government.

Finally the feds, who have been handing out money (our money!) to Canadians during the pandemic like Halloween candy, are paying some attention to the seniors of Canada.

Seniors, many of whom are CARP members, are the ones who voted and elected the politicians in the first place, so thanks for finally remembering to include us in your act of benevolence.

On May 12, federal seniors minister Deb Schulte announced additional financial supports for seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new measures include one-time tax-free payments of $300 and $200 for those who qualify for OAS and GIS, respectively. The government is also investing an additional $20 million in the New Horizons for Seniors program, which provides funding for community programs that help to reduce isolation in older adults

So as we move into phase two of the COVID-19 pandemic “new normal,” I am so excited about spending my windfall.

Party on! No, I can’t do that as large groups are a no-no as we maintain social distancing rules.

No worries, I shall get that desperately needed hair cut. Oh, can’t do that as my hair stylist is not accepting clients.

So instead I shall don one of my many hats, and treat myself to a manicure and pedicure. Oops, can’t do that either, as all the nail salons are closed.

A new spring outfit then from my favourite local shop, which is opening on a limited basis. But why bother as I don’t go anywhere so I really don’t need to add to my wardrobe.

And with my recently acquired COVID-19 weight gain, I probably couldn’t squeeze into my regular size anyway and psychologically, I can’t imagine going up one size.

I could join Weight Watchers online and spend my extra cash that way but that means I would have to give up my popcorn, potato chips and wine I have learned to love during my time of social isolation.

Wait a minute! I have a better idea.

Why not give my $300 to the seniors who really need it, such as those receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and those struggling on or below the poverty line?

Before the added costs many seniors have had to incur during this crisis such as extra pharmacy dispensing fees, they were already having difficulty making ends meet.

While CARP, amplifying the voices of more than 320,000 members, welcomes the token one-time payment of up to $500 for qualifying recipients, we urge the government to do more to support the retirement security crisis caused by COVID-19.

“The supports announced for seniors are welcome, but do not directly address many of the concerns we’ve relayed to government on retirement security and access to liquidity,” advises CARP’s Chief Policy Officer, Marissa Lennox.

Lennox adds “Seniors have been impacted by an increase in the cost of living. Many low-income seniors depend on a variety of community support services … many of which have closed their doors due to the virus.”

More than a short-term solution is needed.

CARP has made several demands of government to provide meaningful and immediate relief to seniors during COVID-19:

• Waive mandatory RRIF withdrawals in 2020

• For 2020 tax year, eliminate withholding tax on RRSP withdrawals and allow two years to repay tax owing

• Follow through with pre-election commitment to increase OAS and CPP.

We deserve better. Go to for more information.

So no personal indulgences for this gal. I’ll put the money into my tax-free savings account instead.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

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