Nova Scotia open to considering seniors income benefit: finance minister

Click to play video: 'Concerns raised as many seniors struggling due to affordability crisis in N.S.'
Concerns raised as many seniors struggling due to affordability crisis in N.S.
While housing availability is top of mind for many Nova Scotians, seniors face additional affordability concerns due to being on fixed incomes. As Megan King reports, a shortage of public housing for those in need means many seniors feel left behind and broken. – Oct 13, 2023

Nova Scotia’s finance minister says he’s open to examining whether a seniors income benefit can be implemented in his province.

Allan MacMaster says Nova Scotia would have to work with the Canada Revenue Service to determine whether a suitable tax measure can be created to help seniors with the cost of living.

However, the minister says he’s not interested in adopting an NDP bill that was introduced in the legislature on Wednesday that calls for changes to the provincial Income Tax Act to provide an income supplement for seniors.

The New Democrats say that eight provinces distribute benefits automatically to seniors based on their income tax returns and that Nova Scotians, in contrast, must apply for a seniors grant.

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NDP Leader Claudia Chender says the time has come for Nova Scotia to have a similar benefit to most other provinces.

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She says she’s not surprised “a deeply partisan” government won’t adopt her party’s legislation, but adds that the NDP is happy for the Progressive Conservatives to steal its idea.

“Of course they won’t pass the bill, this is a deeply partisan government,” Chender told reporters Thursday. “They will not take anybody else’s good idea, but we’re happy for them to steal ours.”

MacMaster said, “We have come up with initiatives that we are targeting for things that we believe will help people and if it can work through the Income Tax Act, often times we prefer that.”

However, the minister defended the seniors care grant as a measure that’s easy to apply for and that helps seniors who are living in their own home.

“Though we ask people to keep receipts, I don’t think there’s been an instance where we’ve actually gone in and questioned somebody’s receipts,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2023.

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