As part of its mini-budget presented Thursday, the Québec government offered a financial boost to seniors who are struggling to make ends meet. However, in the long term, they will need much more financial assistance to manage the constant rise in the cost of living.
Réseau FADOQ welcomes the increase in the Senior Assistance Tax Credit for eligible seniors aged 70 and over, which now amounts to a maximum of $400 for a person living alone and $800 for a couple. With the payment of the exceptional cost of living benefit, which will be automatically allocated to low- and middle-income Quebecers, a single senior will be able to receive up to $675 – $400 from the Senior Assistance credit and $275 from the cost of living benefit.
This benefit, which will be paid as of January 24, will be a one-time lump sum for the year 2022. The Legault government will have to provide for another increase in the Senior Assistance tax credit in the next budget in order to prevent more seniors from finding themselves in a precarious financial situation.
“Low-income seniors need more recurring financial assistance to cope with the rising cost of living. While the one-time benefit is welcome, it will be quickly spent by these seniors to pay for their groceries and rent,” says Réseau FADOQ President Gisèle Tassé-Goodman.
Insufficient Housing Assistance
Finance Minister Eric Girard also announced an increase in the Shelter Allowance that is available to low-income people.
However, going from $80 to $100 per month will still leave a hole in the budget for these seniors, as the cost of rent continues to rise. Réseau FADOQ requested that this amount be increased to $150 per month and indexed annually.
Moreover, the government failed to follow up on the proposal of the country’s largest seniors organization to create a grant (or coverage under the public health plan), renewable every five years, for low-income people aged 65 and over to purchase dentures, eyeglasses or a hearing aid.
Targeted Measures for Experienced Workers
In addition, the Quebec government has introduced new temporary wage premiums for certain retired employees in the health, education and child care sectors who are returning to work.
However, the Minister of Finance did not change the career extension credit to a refundable tax credit and did not enhance it, changes that would have certainly helped to alleviate labour shortages in many other sectors.
In addition, no changes have been made to the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) to bring back or keep experienced workers in the labour market.
Réseau FADOQ recommends:
- Extending the QPP bonus to age 75, at a rate of 8.4% per year worked
- Allowing workers who are collecting retirement benefits to stop contributing to the QPP. In return, the pension benefit would not be enhanced and would only vary according to the indexation rate
- Doubling the length of time during which an individual may decide to stop receiving their QPP benefits in order to return to the labour market.