Human Resources and Social Development Canada

Human Resources and Social Development Canada

August 05, 2008 09:00 ET

Canada's Government is Helping Low-Income Seniors in Prince Edward Island

CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND--(Marketwire - Aug. 5, 2008) - Canada's Government is following through on its commitment to strengthen the country's public pension system and ensure that low-income seniors keep more of their hard-earned money without a reduction in benefits.

Today, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, on behalf of the Honourable Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Secretary of State (Seniors), announced changes to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) that will provide an additional $400,000 in GIS payments to approximately 640 working seniors in Prince Edward Island.

"Our government is committed to supporting low-income seniors living on limited incomes, and giving those seniors who choose to work the financial flexibility they desire in retirement," said Minister MacKay.

"Today's seniors are living longer and more active lives than ever before, and their participation in the labour market is growing," said Minister LeBreton. "This positive measure will put money back into the pockets of thousands of low-income seniors who work."

"I commend the Government of Canada for implementing this measure that will greatly benefit thousands of low-income seniors across Canada," said Susan Eng, Vice-President of Advocacy, Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus (CARP). "Whether by choice or necessity, seniors are participating in the labour force in greater numbers than ever. This measure is a major step forward and CARP encourages this government to continue to be proactive in providing seniors with increased security and flexibility in retirement."

On July 1, 2008, changes came into effect increasing the GIS earnings exemption to $3,500 from $500. A single pensioner, for example, earning $3,500 or more, will be able to keep up to an additional $1,500 in annual GIS benefits.

The GIS is a monthly benefit provided to low-income seniors who receive the Old Age Security (OAS) benefit, which is provided to all Canadians aged 65 and over who meet the residence requirements.

Budget 2008 and other recent Conservative Government initiatives are also addressing the needs of Canada's seniors through the introduction of a series of important measures that include:

- establishing the National Seniors Council to advise the Government on issues of importance to older Canadians;

- providing more than $1 billion in tax relief each year to Canadian seniors through pension income splitting and enhancements in the age and pension income credits;

- providing $13 million over three years to help seniors and others recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and to provide information on what support is available;

- enabling seniors to build their retirement savings in Registered Pension Plans and Registered Retirement Savings Plans for an extra two years until age 71

- funding projects in hundreds of communities across Canada under the New Horizons for Seniors Program, helping seniors to bring their leadership, energy and skills to benefit our communities; and

- enabling 1.6 million low-income seniors to benefit from increased monthly benefits available under the GIS and to make a one-time application for the GIS. As long as they file income tax returns every year, these seniors will never have to re-apply

See the backgrounder for more information on the GIS earnings exemption increase.


Increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement Earnings Exemption

On July 1, 2008, an amendment to the Old Age Security Act came into effect that will help Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) recipients who choose to work to keep more of their GIS benefits.

What has changed?

This amendment increases the GIS earnings exemption to $3,500 from $500. A single pensioner earning $3,500 or more a year, for example, will be able to keep up to an additional $1,500 in annual GIS benefits.

Approximately 100,000 GIS and Allowance recipients with employment income will benefit from this improved measure. The following chart provides a breakdown by province and territory.

Province/ Additional GIS/ Estimated Number of
Territory Allowance Payments Individuals Benefiting
and Labrador $1.3 million 1,790
Prince Edward Island $0.4 million 639
Nova Scotia $1.8 million 3,069
New Brunswick $1.7 million 2,813
Quebec $15.1 million 30,307
Ontario $19.4 million 30,179
Manitoba $2.6 million 3,964
Saskatchewan $2.9 million 4,476
Alberta $6.0 million 8,184
British Columbia $8.1 million 13,811
Northwest Territories,
Nunavut and Yukon $0.5 million 767
CANADA $60.0 million(i) 100,000

(i) Provincial and territorial figures do not add to $60 million due
to rounding. The estimated number of individuals benefiting
reflects the current proportion of GIS recipients with earnings.
The dollar amount was pro-rated accordingly.

Overview of the Old Age Security program

The Old Age Security (OAS) program is funded through general tax revenues and provides a basic income for Canada's seniors. Benefits available through the OAS program include the basic OAS pension, the GIS, the Allowance, and the Allowance for the Survivor.

The OAS pension is available to all Canadians aged 65 and over who meet the residence requirements.

The GIS is a monthly benefit provided to low-income seniors who receive the OAS pension and who have little or no other income. The GIS was increased by $18 a month for single recipients and $29 a month for couples in January 2006 and again in January 2007. This represents a total increase of $36 and $58 respectively, or seven percent over two years.

The Allowance and the Allowance for the Survivor are monthly benefits for 60- to 64-year-old spouses or common-law partners of GIS recipients, or for surviving spouses. The benefits are designed to lessen financial difficulties faced by couples living on a single pension, and by seniors whose spouse or common-law partner has died.

GIS and Allowance recipients have their supplement reduced by one dollar for every two dollars of income (other than the OAS pension). Before the Budget amendment, only 20 per cent of a recipient's earnings, to a maximum of $500, were exempt from the benefit reduction calculation. The new exemption enables GIS and Allowance recipients to earn up to $3,500 without having their GIS benefits reduced.

For more information on OAS benefits, please call 1-800-277-9914 or visit

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

Contact Information

  • Human Resources and Social Development Canada
    Media Relations Office
    Office of the Leader of the Government in the Senate
    and Secretary of State (Seniors)
    James Maunder