Seniors cut off from income suplement after receiving emergency benefits. Unanticipated !

Seniors cut off from income suplement after receiving emergency benefits. Unanticipated !

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Michelle Morrison started this petition to Government of Canada

Canadian seniors have been disproportionately exploited by both the provincial and federal governments during this difficult pandemic. Most recently the Government of Canada and CRA  have unexpectedly and abruptly cut off low income seniors from their monthly federal payments, despite meeting entitlement requirements. This action deprives many low income seniors of their only source of support, taking advantage of a vulnerable demographic.

Many seniors who have been entitled to and applied for CERB were caught by surprise when they learned that it counted towards their taxable income, affecting their supplement amount. When CERB was introduced first in March of 2020 our government as well as CRA failed to explain properly and clearly the conditions and requirements to receive CERB. The only condition mentioned at this time was that the person applying for CERB must have earned more than $5,000 in a previous year and even this was not clarified properly. For the next few few weeks recipients did  not know if this was based on gross income or net income. Government's first release was not clear and confusing. 

CRA quietly updated the website for CERB eligibility weeks after applications opened on April 6, 2020.

In the NEW RELEASE issued by our government on March 25,2020 there was information given that CERB is taxable. Consequently taxes due for receiving CERB were high. A recipient who received a  maximum benefit of $8,000 had to repay $1,200 at tax time. On top of this, there are wildly varying provincial and territorial income tax rates. Neither of the parties mentioned that the Guaranteed Income Supplement will be cut off.

Sometimes between April 21 and April 25, the CRA added a section related to self employed Canadians specifying gross income eligibility. Not net income. There were confusing messages from then-finance minister Bill Morneau, who used the word "revenue" when describing the eligibility criteria for an individual's income.

The omission is part of a larger series of mistakes and mixed messages from CRA and the federal government. The information was unclear and incorrect.

In fact, as we know now, a departmental directive from Service Canada elaborates on how CERB was in fact two programs portrayed as one for simplicity of communication, though they had DIFFERENT CRITERIA.

One stream was for recipients whose income was considered uninsurable, such as self-emplyed Canadians, while the other was for those with insurable earnings. Pandemic benefits would be deducted ONLY from LOW-INCOME SENIORS, while the second group would be excluded from their income amount when applying for GIS. TOTALLY DIFFERENT ELIGILIBILITY CRITERIA WERE APPLIED ! Seniors were never informed.

" Despite meeting the eligibility requirements seniors have been arbitrarily penalized based on the stream these funds came through" (MP Rosemarie Falk). 

The dual-stream system came to light this week.

The government and CRA totally and hugely  MISHANDLED PANDEMIC and CERB issues. NOTHING WAS EXPLAINED and done on whim! People were caught in lockdowns, unaware of a new situation, losing jobs and losing income. Unable to pay mortgages and rent. Distress, uncertainty of tomorrow caused that number of mental cases grew. Federal government is forcing low-income seniors into greater poverty !

The pivotal issue is that usually recipients are notified of their entitlements each July. But not this year. UNANTICIPITED  clawbacks to the guaranteed income supplement typically available to low-income seniors, working part time, self employed or both but unable to work due to COVID-19 were applied. Seniors were NEVER notified  of losing their entitlements. Seniors were NEVER told that their monthly Guaranteed Income Supplement trusted income would drop hundreds of $$$ monthly. In some cases as drastically  as $1,000 or eliminated all together. WITHOUT ANY WARNING the government cut low income seniors off their Guaranteed Income Supplement, blindsided them, cutting their pension in half for the next two years. In many cases Guaranteed Income Supplement is tied in with other programs, such a Prescription Drug Program. For fixed income seniors it is unacceptable.

Some seniors were eligible for CERB and they all relied last year on pandemic benefits and they pay due taxes for taxable CERB. Suddenly without any notice they found themselves cut off from monthly GUARANTEED government benefits, regardless of paying huge taxes on CERB benefits income in 2021. 

Deductions are drastic. Seniors, low income seniors are struggling with unprecedented challenges. Low income seniors are just not going to have enough income at the end of the month in order to pay their bills. Seniors budgeting was based on CERB and its successor, the CRB. What all seniors feared would happen last year will end up happening this year. This may also result in a loss of entitlement - Guaranteed Income Supplement  - forever.

Seniors are requesting a prompt solution to save low income seniors present financial situations. Seniors are requesting the Government to act immediately to support low income seniors who were cut off from their Guaranteed Income Supplement. Seniors are asking to reverse its action of slashing the Guaranteed Income Supplement. High taxes for CERB benefits received in 2020 were applied and leave Seniors worse off than before!  Low income Seniors are asking not to be penalized for receiving the financial support they needed and qualified for in 2020. Seniors deserve to live in dignity. SENIORS, the most vulnerable group, MUST BE RECTIFIED for the sake of financial stability and security �!

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