Internal government documents provide the clearest picture yet of the impact that emergency aid has on federal support for low-income seniors and families.
Thousands of benefit recipients have seen a decline in the value of payments because they received Canada Emergency Response Benefit or its successor, Canada Recovery Benefit, last year.
Documents show that low-income families were expected to see the largest declines in support through Canada Child Benefit, and federal officials say about 83,000 low-income seniors have lost the guaranteed income supplement.
The documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act provide a window into the early warnings about how the financial aid offered by the pandemic recovery benefits last year now holds back payments that millions of Canadian households have relied on.
The reason is that CERB and a trio of other public recovery services – CRB for unemployed workers, a care benefit for everyone who stayed home to care for a child or loved one, and a sickness benefit for sick workers – were counted as income. for use in calculating benefit amounts. As incomes increased, benefit values declined.
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In a May presentation on the impact on child benefit payments, Employment and Social Development Canada officials wrote that about 15 percent of beneficiaries received CCB, compared to 12 percent of the general population.
The presentation estimated that among those expected to see a drop in child benefit amounts, nearly three out of 10 total incomes had below $ 20,000, and the value of their benefits would decline more compared to higher-earning recipients.
Meanwhile, emergency aid reduced GIS payments to 183,417 low-income seniors, who lost an average of about $ 3,500 this year, which is less than they would have received in pandemic-related benefits last year because additional payments are charged $ 1 for every $ 2 . of net income.
GIS beneficiaries can ask the government to calculate their benefits on the current year’s income, not the previous year, as is generally the case. About 5,000 applications had been received by early July, and officials wrote in a briefing to the minister’s office expecting “the volume of requests to increase significantly.”
In the end, Employment and Social Development Canada said about 83,000 seniors receiving CERB or one of the three federal recovery services were pushed above the income threshold to qualify for GIS. That number is just over half of the 157,208 seniors who exceeded the maximum income amount above which someone no longer qualifies for the GIS referred to in one of the documents.
“Every year, thousands of seniors’ GIS is adjusted to reflect changes in their net income so that it is aimed at those who need it most,” Senior Minister Kamal Khera’s office said in a statement.
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“We appreciate that the adjustment has been difficult for some seniors. We continue to look at how we can support those who are trying to make ends meet. “
There were also more than 130,000 seniors who had their payments suspended because they did not report income tax on time, a number that has since dropped to 35,580 after Service Canada made thousands of calls to get the missing information.
New Democrat Jenny Kwan said many seniors in her Vancouver riding are worried about paying rent, and those facing language barriers are having trouble getting information on why their payments have been cut.
“It’s so stressful for these seniors,” Kwan said. “I have no doubt that if the government does not intervene, these seniors will end up becoming homeless.”
© 2021 The Canadian Press