North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney wants more support for seniors.

In a letter sent to Minister for Seniors Deb Schulte, Blaney expressed her concern that seniors are being left behind in the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She’s calling for an immediate increase to Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments.

“Seniors are the most vulnerable demographic at this time, yet the federal government has chosen to provide income supports to so many others ahead of seniors,” Blaney says. “At this point, seniors are having to make extremely tough choices like absorbing the extra delivery costs on a fixed income or risking their health by going to the grocery store or pharmacy themselves. Why, if we’re going through all of this trouble to protect people from COVID-19, is the government putting seniors in this situation?”

Blaney says the NDP government has been calling for a universal basic income approach since the early days of the pandemic.

“A universal approach would have gotten seniors and everyone else falling through the cracks of the CERB right now the help they need. Instead, we’re now dealing with a whole slate of programming that is confusing and still difficult for people to access, with some being left out entirely. This is not the approach of a government that is truly concerned about the wellbeing of seniors.”

She says the concern for those left out of the current benefits schemes continues to grow.

“My office is hearing every day from people who are still unable to make ends meet and worried about being able to pay their rent in May. The assumption that all students are all young people who can rely on their parents and live off $1,250 a month is absurd. Persons with disabilities have been ignored by the federal government entirely,” Blaney says.

“And, the Prime Minister keeps asking seniors to wait after weeks of being told help is coming.”

As there is currently no universal benefit, Blaney is asking Minister Schulte to immediately increase OAS and GIS payments.

“The announcements so far about the RRIF withdrawals and support for organizations supporting seniors are great, those need to remain in place. But they still leave a lot of gaps. By far the easiest and fastest way to get seniors the support they need right now is an increase to OAS and GIS payments. I really hope the Minister takes these recommendations seriously and considers the impact that this extra money would have on seniors given the current reality with COVID-19,” Blaney adds.