Trudeau mum on whether seniors will get coronavirus financial support

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario offers additional financial support for low-income seniors
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced during Tuesday’s coronavirus briefing that the province has doubled the guaranteed annual income system (GAIN) payments which are being delivered this week to 194,000 low-income seniors across the province. The new rates will include up to an extra CA$166 a month in the pockets of the seniors, and up to an extra CA$332 per month for couples. Ford said this will “provide much needed financial support and make it easier for seniors to stay safe and healthy at home.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional details on funding for seniors.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is saying little on whether Canadian seniors will get more financial support to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The federal government has rolled out hundreds of billions of dollars worth of wage subsidies for businesses, tax deferrals, worker benefits, loans and cash for students and youth volunteers over the last two months. It’s all part of the emergency response to the coronavirus and the economic shutdown implemented to try to control its spread through the population.

Trudeau said late last month the government would provide more funding for seniors but has so far faced questions on whether it is doing enough to help them.

So far, the government has rolled out half a billion dollars in supports for a range of vulnerable people, including seniors, along with a GST credit for low and medium income seniors and reductions to the minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds.

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The government also says measures extending the deadline for Canadians to file income tax and allowing Canadians earning up to $1,000 a month to file for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will also help seniors, among others.

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READ MORE: Canada to provide more funding for seniors, vulnerable amid coronavirus pandemic: Trudeau

During a daily briefing from Rideau Cottage on Monday, Trudeau was asked by a journalist when more help would arrive for seniors. He said while some measures are coming, the priority was on helping other groups of Canadians first.

“We knew that moving forward on replacing people who lost and were counting on their paycheques through COVID-19 was the priority,” he said.

“That’s why we moved forward with the CERB and the wage subsidy which launches today. We then recognized that students who often start their summer jobs in early May after finishing their term post-secondary education needed help as well, which is why we’re moving forward on that.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario offers additional financial support for low-income seniors
Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario offers additional financial support for low-income seniors

Trudeau added that any further supports will focus on low-income seniors.

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READ MORE: B.C. seniors advocate says she wants to see visitors back in care homes ‘safely’

“Seniors are also facing a tremendous level of vulnerability because of COVID-19,” he said, pointing to things like health vulnerabilities and lack of access to regular services.

“We have moved forward on a number of things to ensure that they get supports, but we’re also looking at further supports specifically for the most vulnerable low-income seniors who are truly challenged.”

Those measures will be coming “soon,” he said.