Although Canada’s retirement income system has reduced the incidence of poverty among Canadian seniors, some seniors remain at risk. In particular, seniors who rely almost exclusively on Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement may still experience financial difficulties, for instance when home heating costs spike. In addition, women who have made a valuable contribution to their families, to their community and to society as a whole by working hard at home are particularly at risk as they may not have access to other sources of income. The Government recognizes the contributions seniors have made and is committed to ensuring that they continue to have a good quality of life.
Budget 2011 announces a new Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up benefit targeted to the most vulnerable seniors. Effective July 1, 2011, seniors with little or no income other than Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement will receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. Single recipients with an annual income (other than Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement) of $2,000 or less, and couples with an annual income of $4,000 or less, will receive the full amount of the benefit. Above these income thresholds, the amount of the top-up will be gradually reduced and will be completely phased out at an income level of $4,400 for singles and $7,360 for couples.
This represents an investment of more than $300 million per year. This measure will further improve the financial security and well-being of more than 680,000 seniors across Canada. Over the coming months, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development will collaborate with provincial and territorial governments to ensure that the new top-up does not negatively impact services and benefits provided by these governments.