WINNIPEG – NDP MPs Leah Gazan (Winnipeg Centre), Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood –Transcona), Niki Ashton (Churchill—Keewatinook Aski) and community advocates are calling on the newly elected Liberal government to reverse cuts to low-income senior’s payments through the Guaranteed Income Supplements (GIS) for accessing emergency supports during the pandemic.
Camille, who lives in Winnipeg said:
“I received one week's notice when my monthly GIS payment of $626 was cut due to one year of receiving emergency benefits. I may now lose my GIS for two years after receiving these benefits for 18 months. I’m still below the poverty line, even after receiving emergency benefits and GIS – so why is the GIS being removed?”
“No senior should be at risk of becoming unhoused or facing serious health consequences as a result of losing access to GIS,” said Gazan. “This government needs to step up and restore GIS benefits for low-income seniors, regardless of whether they accessed pandemic supports.”
Earlier this year, Manitoba NDP MPs wrote to former Seniors Minister Deb Schulte, urging the Liberal government not to count pandemic supports as income for the purpose of protecting seniors' GIS payments. No action was taken.
“CERB was meant to help people avoid evictions during the pandemic. Depriving some of our poorest seniors of their GIS now means Justin Trudeau is content to have simply delayed those evictions until after his vanity election,” said Blaikie. “Vulnerable seniors are already having their lives turned upside down. The government needs to act before any more damage is done.”
"When Canadian seniors needed help from their government most, the Liberals chose to cut their GIS payments,” said Ashton. “We are calling on the Liberals to reverse this decision immediately, so more seniors are not punished.”
“The GIS program was created to assist seniors with low incomes prior to the pandemic. Everyone knows that food costs rose and other support programs that seniors relied on to supplement fixed and tight incomes shut down or had to limit access during the pandemic. Do we really, as a society, want to add to the burdens that low-income seniors already face? I hope not.” Kate Kehler, The Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
“Any cut of income at this time of COVID-19 and especially for seniors of refugee and immigrant backgrounds will definitely exacerbate the already worse economic and housing situations they are experiencing. “ Reuben Garang, Ethno-Cultural Council of Manitoba