The federal government is giving seniors a one-time, tax-free top-up payment to help manage extra costs associated with COVID-19.

Seniors Minister Deb Schulte says seniors who receive old age security (OAS) will get $300, and those who receive the guaranteed income supplement (GIS) will receive $200.

As Prime Minister Trudeau pointed out on Tuesday, if you are receiving both OAS and GIS, then you are eligible to receive a total of $500 from the government.

In addition to the one-time payments, the government will be allocating $20 million to the New Horizons for Seniors program. These funds will go towards developing systems to help isolated seniors stay connected and “improve their quality of life,” claimed the prime minister.

In all, the $2.5 billion measure will provide payments to 6.7 million seniors, Schulte said.

She said many have faced an increase in the cost of living as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, from more for dispensing fees for medications or delivery fees for food and services.

She also added that their savings have taken a beating as stock markets have tumbled.

The government is also announcing that it won’t suspend OAS and GIS payments to seniors who forget to file their taxes on time.

“We need to be there for those who have built this country for the rest of us,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a press conference in Ottawa.

Prime Minister Trudeau said seniors have always been a priority in the government’s COVID-19 response, however, Tuesday’s announcement is the first form of direct financial assistance.

Prior to this, the government had instituted public health measures to protect vulnerable seniors and provided GST tax credits, but no direct funds.

“With today’s announcement our government is taking action to alleviate some of the stress they may be feeling, but there is a lot more work to be done.”

The prime minister emphasized his concerns about current care systems and specific flaws that have been highlighted in recent weeks as a result of the novel coronavirus.

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