Question Period Note: Poverty among Seniors in Canada


Reference number:
Date received:
Jun 7, 2023
Employment and Social Development Canada
Name of Minister:
Khera, Kamal (Hon.)
Title of Minister:
Minister of Seniors


Children supporting their senior parents who did not save enough for retirement

Suggested Response:

We are committed to improving the quality of life for seniors now and for generations to come.

The Government has made significant investments to reduce poverty among seniors, including increasing the GIS for the lowest income single seniors, and increasing the OAS pension for seniors 75 and older. Retirement benefits are also indexed quarterly to help keep up with the rising cost of living.

And our poverty reduction efforts are working. The poverty rate among seniors decreased from 7.1% in 2015 to 3.1% in 2020, representing 187,000 seniors lifted out of poverty.

If pressed on why adult children support their parents in retirement:

There are many reasons why adult children may help to support their parents in retirement such as events over the life-course, or unexpected expenses.

The Government continues to make investments to help seniors with the cost of living.

In Budget 2023, the Government introduced the one-time Grocery Rebate, which will reach more than half of Canadian seniors. The Canadian Dental Care Plan will provide dental coverage to uninsured seniors. And in 2022, the Government provided a one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit.


The Government has made significant investments and adopted measures to reduce poverty among seniors. Nonetheless, a recent survey in the Carrick on Money newsletter noted that some seniors turn to their adult children for financial support as some seniors do not have adequate savings for retirement or have outlived their retirement savings.

The Government restored the age of eligibility from 67 to 65 for both the Old Age Security (OAS) pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), which helped 100,000 seniors aged 65 and 66 to avoid plunging into poverty.

To help seniors who are living in poverty or are most at risk of living in poverty, the Government enhanced the GIS in 2016 by increasing the amount received by up to $947 annually for the most vulnerable single seniors and helping improve the financial security of 900,000 seniors.

In July 2022, the Government increased the OAS pension by 10 percent for seniors 75 years and older, to provide more than $800 in new support to full pensioners over the first year, and increased benefits for more than 3 million seniors.

To ensure that COVID-19 emergency response benefits did not negatively impact GIS or Allowance payment amounts, the Government of Canada provided, as part of the December 2021 Economic and Fiscal Update, $742.4 million for one-time payments to GIS and Allowance recipients who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) in 2020. These payments were issued automatically in April 2022 without the need for an application. The Government also introduced amendments to the Old Age Security Act to exempt any amount of CERB, CRB, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit received in 2021 or later from the calculation of income for the GIS and Allowances in 2021.

Additional Information:

The latest data from the Canadian Income Survey shows that there was a increase in the poverty rate for seniors in 2021 as measured by Canada’s Official Poverty Line (the Market Basket Measure). The poverty rate for seniors was 5.6% in 2021, compared with 3.1% in 2020. This represents approximately 176,000 more seniors were living in poverty in 2021 compared to 2020.

The increase in the overall poverty rate between 2020 and 2021 reflects the phaseout of key temporary COVID-19 emergency income supports provided in 2020, most notably the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), as well as the onset of higher inflation rates in 2021. In 2021, the poverty rate for senior women (6.1%) was higher than for senior men (4.9%). In 2021, the poverty rate for seniors aged 65-74 years was 5.6%, slightly higher than the poverty rate for seniors aged 75 years and above (5.5%).

Single seniors continue to have higher poverty rates than those living in families. Between 2020 and 2021, the poverty rate for single seniors increased from 7.4% to 13.3% while the poverty rate for seniors living in families rose to a smaller extent from 1.3% to 2.4%.

Seniors from vulnerable groups such as Indigenous seniors (4.6%), immigrant seniors (4.0%), visible minority seniors (4.4%) and seniors with disability (3.2%) had relatively higher poverty rates than the overall senior population (3.1%) in 2020.