The federal NDP are hoping to convince the Liberal government to fix the Guaranteed Income Supplement situation before the house of commons rises for winter break at the end of the week.
NDP seniors critic Rachel Blaney put forward a motion asking all MPs to give unanimous consent to address the issue before Friday, but the motion was killed after several MPs voted against it.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also penned a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the issue, asking the Liberal government to reverse the cut to the GIS for low-income seniors who were eligible for pandemic benefits before the House rises this week.
Before the pandemic, many seniors were working to supplement their GIS. Once their work stopped as the pandemic took hold, many then applied for emergency benefits, which caused their GIS to then get cut back.
“The Liberal government stood by and said their hands were tied when the richest companies took pandemic support to pay bonuses to wealthy executives or to pay dividends to rich shareholders,” said NDP finance critic Daniel Blaikie. “Instead of making the wealthiest pay back the help they took and didn’t need, the Liberal government is going after our country’s poorest seniors and putting them in an impossible situation.”
“Working seniors already struggle to make ends meet,” Blaikie said. “Denying them the GIS, or severely reducing it, as a result of last year’s emergency benefits is not only unfair but will make it impossible for some of them to make rent. The point of the emergency benefits was to prevent evictions and keep food on the table, not to merely delay homelessness and hunger.”
According to the release from the NDP, Singh also has raised the issued in private meetings with the Prime Minister, and MPs have written letters to the government since August. They have also asked for an emergency debate and stood in the house to address the problem.
“One senior wrote to us to say that not only was he failing to make ends meet with a drastic cut in his GIS payments, but he’s also dealing with a recent cancer diagnosis – and an upcoming eviction on December 23, that’s two days before Christmas if the Liberal government doesn’t reverse this cruel decision hurting him and some of our country’s poorest seniors,” said Blaney.
“The Liberal government promised to have people’s backs for as long as they needed help. Seniors helped build this country and they need us to have their backs now more than ever. If we fail to fix this, thousands of seniors might be out on the streets in the coldest time of the year. We can’t let that happen.”