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COLUMN: Seniors most likely to suffer after federal generosity during COVID

"Now many old folks wish they had never heard the acronyms 'CERB' and 'CRB' because the amounts they received are being tallied and will count against any GIS payments they would have normally received over the course of the next 12 to 18 months."
Nelson Chris web
Columnist Chris Nelson

Considering the amount of borrowed money the Trudeau government has showered upon virtually every interest group beneath the hot Canadian sun, it’s tough to imagine anyone’s getting the shaft.

But dig deeper and you’ll discover one group is indeed going to pay, big time, for this seemingly endless deluge of free cash that has been handed out under the somewhat convenient cover of fighting COVID-19. (That a federal election will soon be called is, of course, totally irrelevant to such widespread Liberal largesse.)

Who among us will be left holding the fiscal bag? Which group will indeed suffer?

For sure it won’t be the latest cobbled-together collection of vague victims from something or other. That would never do for our virtue-signaling prime minister. Those groups are Teflon-coated and have a permanent prime placement at the handout trough.

Nope, instead it will be struggling seniors who will be the unfortunate fall guys and gals. Yes, those same people who helped build this country but who weren’t fortunate enough to secure some fat private pension – one that would see them comfortable in their so-called golden years.

These are the folk who therefore are forced to rely upon Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan they paid into over a lifetime of employment. It averages about $1,450 a month. Hey, that relative pittance doesn’t allow for any high living, even on the scrawniest of hogs.

Ah, but wait, you might accurately point out, there’s always the Guaranteed Income Supplement to augment that paltry sum. It was put in place years ago for exactly that purpose.

This federal top up is designed to provide a monthly stipend to the most needy of seniors. Again, nobody’s nipping off to Monte Carlo for a weekend based on that payout either, but it helps keep the wolf from the door for many older Canadians – almost three million received it last year.

Many of those not-so-well-off seniors are therefore forced to supplement their bare-bones incomes by continuing to work, usually in some part-time gig. Like many of their younger brethren, this was exactly the type of employment hit when the pandemic arrived.

But at least relief seemed at hand, thanks to federal programs put in place to shield lower-paid Canadians facing a significant drop in wages through no fault of their own.

Except now many old folks wish they had never heard the acronyms "CERB" and "CRB" because the amounts they received are being tallied and will count against any GIS payments they would have normally received over the course of the next 12 to 18 months.

Yes, a government that managed to spend $354 billion over budget last financial year and plans on another $150 billion in red ink this time around, wants to save comparative pin money on the backs of financially struggling Canadian seniors.

Nobody warned these seniors that whatever they might receive under COVID relief would later count against future GIS payments. Maybe they believed that hogwash about the Grits having their backs. Now they discover it’s their pockets that are of more interest.

Remember this is the same government that paid out COVID cash to the dead, to people living in foreign lands, and to those who claimed the dough without reading the fine print. That money was simply written off.

Yet, when it comes to those who worked for decades and, even after hitting 65, still are forced to work to make some part-time cash only to get blindsided by COVID, well, then it’s fair game to squeeze them until the pips pop.

Chris Nelson is a long-time journalist. His columns run regularly in the St. Albert Gazette.