COMMITMENT TO INCREASE THE OLD AGE SECURITY PENSION FOR SENIORS AGED 75 AND OVER

About

Reference number:
SchulteJan2020-005
Date received:
2019-12-04
Organization:
Employment and Social Development Canada
Name of Minister:
Schulte, Deb (Hon.)
Title of Minister:
Minister of Seniors

Issue/Question:

The Government has committed to increase the Old Age Security pension by 10% for seniors aged 75 and over. Will seniors receive an increase in July 2020 as promised?

Suggested Response:

• Our Government will continue to move forward with investments that give our seniors a better qualify of life, with stronger supports to help make ends meet.

• We are taking action to help make life more affordable for Canadians as they age. We are committed to increasing the Old Age Security pension by 10 percent for seniors when they turn 75. For most seniors, the increase will provide up to $729 in additional assistance each year.

• Work is currently underway on the implementation of this commitment.

Background:

The Old Age Security (OAS) program is a non-contributory, residence-based program financed through general tax revenues. The objective of the OAS program is to provide a minimum level of income to seniors and contribute to their income replacement in retirement. The OAS benefits include the OAS pension, which is paid to all individuals aged 65 and older who meet the residence and legal status requirements, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for low income seniors, and the Allowances for low-income Canadians aged 60 to 64 who are the spouses/common-law partners of GIS recipients, or who are widows or widowers.

The GIS is an income-tested monthly benefit that provides additional support to low income seniors who have little or no income other than the OAS pension. Together, the OAS pension and the GIS help ensure that the overall income of seniors does not fall below a specified threshold, providing seniors with a minimum income guarantee.

To date, the Government has undertaken several measures to improve the financial security of low-income seniors. Since 2016, the Government has:

o increased the GIS top-up for the lowest-income single seniors by up to $947 annually, helping close to 900,000 seniors who rely almost exclusively on the OAS pension and the GIS, and lifted an estimated 57,000 seniors out of poverty (based on the Market Basket Measure);
o restored the age of eligibility for the OAS pension and the GIS to 65 from 67, preventing about 100,000 future seniors from falling into poverty; and
o introduced an increase to the GIS earnings exemption from $3,500 to $5,000, extended the exemption to self-employment income, and introduced an additional 50% exemption on employment and self-employment income between $5,000 and $15,000, starting in July 2020. This measure will enable working GIS recipients and their spouses to earn up to $15,000 in employment and self-employment income before the GIS benefit reduction applies to their full income.

In the Liberal Platform “Forward, A Real Plan for the Middle Class,” the Government committed to increase the OAS pension by 10% for seniors aged 75 and over, starting in July 2020. The proposed increase will provide Canadians aged 75 and older with up to $729 more each year. It will improve the financial security for about 3 million seniors, and will lift more than 20,000 seniors out of poverty.

The Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer has estimated that the proposed increase to the OAS pension will cost $1.63 billion in 2020-21, and rise to $2.56 billion in 2023-24.

Additional Information:

KEY FACTS
• In 2018–19, $53.4 billion was paid in Old Age Security (OAS) benefits to 6.3 million beneficiaries, which includes $40.4 billion in pension benefits to 6.2 million recipients.
• There are about 2.8 million OAS pensioners who are aged 75 and over.
• The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that the proposal would cost $1.63 billion in 2020 21, and rise to $2.56 billion in 2023-24.
• It is estimated that the proposal would lift over 20,000 seniors out of poverty.

«Seniors poverty is a growing concern. The Liberals’ proposed OAS increase would make a real difference to Canada’s poorest seniors.»

– Canadian Association of Retired Persons (statement through CBC news article: “Trudeau promises more financial supports for seniors – but no independent accounting”, September 18, 2019)

«…the policy is noteworthy because it benefits the “oldest old,” where the “risk of falling into poverty increases substantially,” rather than everyone over 65 years, who qualify for OAS.»

– Kevin Milligan, Ph.D, Professor of Economics at the Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia (statement through The Globe and Mail news article: “Canadian seniors in focus as election campaign enters second week”, September 18, 2019)

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