Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

June 30, 2011 12:04 ET

Guaranteed Income Supplement Increases for Low-Income Seniors

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 30, 2011) - More than 680 000 of Canada's lowest-income seniors will benefit from the largest increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) in a quarter century. The GIS increase, effective July 2011, is part of Budget 2011.

"Canada's seniors have worked hard to build a better country for future generations and the Government of Canada has taken significant action since 2006 to improve seniors' quality of life," said the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. "Our Government is implementing new measures that will improve the financial security of our most vulnerable seniors, many of whom are women."

Beginning in July 2011, seniors with little or no income other than the Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement will receive additional benefits up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples per year—the most significant increase in over 25 years.

The increase to the GIS represents a $300 million investment per year and is the third GIS increase in the last five years. OAS benefits, including the GIS, are designed to help seniors meet their immediate, basic needs and maintain a minimum standard of living in retirement.

This news release is available in alternative formats on request.

BACKGROUNDER

GIS increase EFFECTIVE July 1, 2011

Effective in July 2011, seniors with little or no income will receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. Single recipients with an annual income of $2,000 or less, excluding OAS benefits, and couples with an annual income of $4,000 or less, will receive the full increase. Above these income thresholds, the amount of the top-up will be gradually reduced and completely phased out at an income level of $4,400 for singles and at a combined income level of $7,360 for couples who both receive GIS benefits. This represents an investment of more than $300 million per year.

OLD AGE SECURITY

The OAS program is the cornerstone of Canada's retirement income system.

With 40 years of residence in Canada, a full pension can be received.

The OAS program offers three types of benefits:

  1. The OAS basic pension: This pension is paid to individuals aged 65 or older who meet the residence and legal status requirements. In 2010−11, 4.8 million seniors received $28.2 billion in OAS pension benefits.
  1. The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS): The GIS is paid to individuals receiving the OAS basic pension who have little or no other income. In 2010-11, 1.7 million seniors received $7.9 billion in GIS benefits.
  1. The Allowances: The Allowance is paid to individuals aged 60 to 64 whose spouse or common-law partner receives the GIS. The Allowance for the Survivor is paid to individuals between the ages of 60 and 64 who have little or no income, and whose spouse or common-law partner has died. In 2010-11, 93 609 people approaching their senior years received $541 million in Allowance benefits.

OAS benefits are adjusted quarterly in January, April, July and October to reflect changes in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The Old Age Security Act contains a guarantee that ensures that OAS benefits are not reduced, even when there is a decrease in the CPI. As such, if the CPI goes down, OAS benefits will remain the same.

Individuals must apply for OAS benefits. They do not start automatically.

Contact Information

  • Ann Matejicka
    Director of Communications
    Office of Minister Finley
    819-994-2482

    Media Relations Office
    Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
    819-994-5559