If you’re a senior, the 2016 federal budget has a few welcome surprises, especially for low-income seniors and veterans. Here’s a rundown of what’s in store for seniors with Budget 2016.
Safe at 65
The Harper government had previously announced plans to increase the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) from 65 to 67. This change was set to take place in 2023, and was largely disputed by the general public. Thankfully, these plans have been scrapped by our current federal government and Canadians nearing retirement age can plan to start receiving government payments at 65.
Another change that is being undone by the current federal government is the closure of veteran’s affairs offices around the country. Since 2014, nine of these offices have been shut down during federal budget cutbacks. The new plan is to reopen these offices in the same locations and resume usual activity. This will make life much easier for veterans living in these areas as they will no longer need to commute long distances or communicate over the phone and can receive the hands-on assistance they deserve for their service to our country.
Included in the budget are funds dedicated to building and renovating properties for low-income seniors and families. Spending 200.7 million dollars over the next two years on seniors’ housing, which is expected to improve for than five thousand low income seniors’ households. The goal is to create sustainable living environments that are also affordable. This will provide seniors at risk of homelessness with a chance to find accommodations within their budget. This plan will also help to move seniors away from rundown properties and poorly maintained neighbourhoods and into newer properties.
Last but not least are the changes to the Guaranteed Income Supplement. The federal government has proposed an increase to the amount of Old Age Security funding that low-income seniors will receive by nearly one thousand dollars per year. Another change involves being able to file as an individual instead of a couple. This will increase the amount of funding that seniors receive from the government and will help especially with married seniors who don’t live together, as in cases where one spouse lives at home and the other lives in an assisted living facility.
Much of the budget contains amendments and changes to the plans proposed by the previous federal government. The return of the veteran’s affairs offices and the OES coverage age being restored to 65 are welcome mainstays for seniors. The newer concepts such as the low income housing and the changes to guaranteed income supplements are also helpful and will provide for a greater quality of life for Canadian seniors.