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View Deb Schulte Profile
Lib. (ON)
We've come a long way. The government has been working since day one on improving the situation for seniors. You know that we did a GST top-up in our very early budget to try to help those very low-income and vulnerable seniors. There were too many seniors living in poverty, and through our measures, we've had a significant improvement in the circumstances of seniors across Canada. However, during this pandemic, we've seen again that seniors are struggling, especially our more vulnerable seniors.
This is why we did the program to provide the $300 for those on old age security, and an additional $200 as an improvement for the more vulnerable who are on the guaranteed income supplement. As I said before, the money they got in April for the GST top-up has helped a couple on the guaranteed income supplement by over $1,500 on average. That's a significant help for vulnerable seniors during this COVID pandemic.
What we haven't talked about is that there are a lot of seniors who are afraid to come out of their homes. They don't have access to public transit the way they used to, because they're afraid to use public transit. If they need to go somewhere, they're often taking a taxi. They're seeing a tremendous impact on their finances because they're having to spend more on the drugs they need. This was raised before by one of the members of the committee, that provinces are limiting the amount of drugs that people are able to have to one month, which means they now have additional dispensing fees. There is a long list of impacts that seniors are facing, and our vulnerable seniors are most affected.
One of the things we're doing is putting in significant investments in community organizations to help support seniors. We see so many organizations stepping up across the country specifically reaching out to seniors to make sure they get the groceries they need and to make sure they have a hot meal. This is coming through with over half a billion dollars that we have flowed into charities and supports for vulnerable Canadians, including seniors.
Part of our announcement this week was an additional $20 million of new horizons money, because we are always oversubscribed in the new horizons program where community groups want to help seniors. In this environment, I've been so impressed with the creativity that people have brought on how to bring seniors together, keeping them in their homes, keeping them safe, but making sure they feel a very connected part of the community.
I'll give you an example if you have the time.
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