Part of this article is in bullet form to keep facts, and subsequent questions, clear.
In Canada, every person over age 65, with a few exceptions, is eligible to receive the Old Age Security (OAS) pension. At the time of this writing, that amount is $629.49/month – $7553.88/annum. This is taxable income.
The government also has a Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for low-income seniors. The amount collectable is based on income not including the OAS. If a person has no income other than the OAS, the maximum GIS available is $935.72
If your income is $18,983.99/annum ($1582/month) you are not eligible for the GIS. Midline income $9400/annum ($783.33/month) = GIS $399.79/month ($4797.48/annum).
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is based on your average earnings throughout your working life as long as you contributed to the CPP during those working years. You can start your claim as early as age 60 or as late as age 70, the amount you collect is less at age 60 and somewhat greater at age 70. As of 2019 (the effective date on the Government of Canada website) the average amount paid to a person at age 65 is $679.16/month ($8149.92/annum).
It is the opinion of this writer that these numbers constitute a form of elder abuse in one of the wealthiest countries on the globe.
Where do you fit?
These numbers are based on a single person:
- You are senior who did not pay into the CPP (full-time homemaker, caregiver, gig worker, etc.): You will receive OAS & full GIS – $629.49+$935.72 = $1565.21/month
- You are a senior who paid into the CPP who is now receiving the average pension: You will receive the OAS and average CPP – $629.49+$679.16 = $1308.65, which gives you an income of $8149.92/annum after OAS so you are eligible to receive a GIS of $468.72/month. Your income is now $629.49+$679.16+$468.72 = $1777.93/month
Both of these income numbers are theoretical but feasible.
For the next part of this article, keep these two numbers in mind:
Research into average cost of living (C-O-L) numbers for a single person who rents their accommodation in Canada, the numbers across 20 urban areas ranged from $1926/month to $3109/month. For the sake of argument, I am going to reduce these numbers by 25% because many seniors are willing to rent simpler accommodations and have a reduced lifestyle. C-O-L numbers are now $1444.50 to $2331.75.
Are you seeing any discrepancies here? I am being polite using the word “simpler” to describe accommodations. Sometimes, “simpler” actually means sub-standard, which results in situations like the June 2021 heat wave in B.C. which tripled the number of “sudden deaths” and according to CBC news “The majority of people who died were older and living alone, and many waited hours for help as B.C.’s ambulance services became overwhelmed when temperatures rose above 40 C in southern B.C. from June 25 to July 1, and longer in some areas.” Anecdotally, one paramedic reported finding temperatures in the mid-30s in some of the apartments he was entering to deal with the occupant.
The last paragraph may sound like mixing apples with oranges but consider the following:
- climate change is real and cannot be discounted when discussing the needs of seniors in Canada (part of that 1,000-ft. view)
- urban cities, while more expensive, offer more complete medical and therapeutic interventions for a population who can often expect health compromises as they age.
- rural communities may be more affordable but if the affordability is the only reason to live there, it could mean a senior is moving away from support systems, friends, family, community and traditions.
- winters in Canada are cold at best and harsh on many occasions. Those same accommodations that cannot stay cool in summer cannot stay warm in winter.
- Canadian winters often come with snow and ice and generally dangerous conditions for anyone with compromised mobility and/or strength.
- Loneliness and social isolation are both real amongst seniors in Canada and amplified by both climate and low income.
This article is my opinion. I would, in fact, be delighted if someone could disprove any of my theories or find fault with my math.
Please leave your comments below.
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