Seniors facing higher costs for groceries, transportation and prescriptions due to COVID-19 can expect emergency aid payments of up to $500 in early July — but critics say it's too little and too late.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced during his daily news conference in Ottawa this morning that the payments would be distributed starting the week of July 6.
Trudeau initially announced the one-time top-up on May 12.
The payments are to offset increases in the cost of living due to COVID-19. Seniors who qualify for Old Age Security (OAS) will be eligible for a one-time tax-free payment of $300, and those eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will get $200.
Those eligible for both will receive $500.
The direct supports will amount to $2.5 billion and are expected to help 6.7 million older Canadians.
Trudeau said many seniors are facing increased costs, such as additional dispensing fees for prescriptions, added costs for grocery delivery services and taxi fees when they might have taken the bus in past.
"What makes things even harder is the fact that this is the new normal for many of them, at least for a little while," Trudeau said.
"Even as we start to reopen parts of the economy, many seniors will have to stay home for longer to protect their health. And that's really weighing on them."
Seniors an 'afterthought' for government: Conservative MP
Conservative seniors critic Alice Wong said the Liberals have dragged their heels on helping seniors at this critical time.
"While I am pleased that the government has finally decided on a date to deliver their promised top-up to Canadian seniors, this is the latest in an established pattern of treating seniors, the people that built this country, as an afterthought in terms of both financial and physical security," she said.
"It took nearly two months for the Liberals to announce seniors' specific relief, and now we learn it will take another two months for them to receive it."
NDP seniors critic Scott Duvall also slammed the government for making struggling seniors wait for help. "Why did it take so long for this government to understand that the help was needed urgently, not over two months into the pandemic?" he said.
"Making seniors, who are struggling to make ends meet, wait for another month for relief is unacceptable. Also, by just offering a one-time payment, the government is ignoring shortfalls seniors were dealing with before the pandemic, and the needs that will still be there in the next months."