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Ottawa makes plea for seniors to file taxes as thousands risk losing benefits

Last Updated Oct 14, 2020 at 2:46 pm MDT

IMAGE. Supplied by St. Aidan's Society.

Ottawa said tens of thousands of seniors are at risk of losing benefits because they haven’t yet filed their taxes.

The federal government issued a public plea for them to submit their returns as soon as possible.

That way payments of the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) are not suspended come Jan. 1, 2021.

Due to the pandemic, Ottawa extended the tax deadline to this month continuing benefits for 214,000 GIS recipients.

The government estimates that 63,000 seniors could see an interruption in benefit payments if they don’t file tax returns quickly.

Luana Bussieres, Executive Director of St. Aidan’s Society, spoke of great concern about the number of seniors at risk.

“It is a critical income supplement that the most financially vulnerable seniors rely upon to help cover basic living expenses. Losing this income could mean the difference between eating and not eating or getting necessary medications.”

Bussieres said her team will follow up with seniors to ensure their taxes are complete and they don’t experience a halt to their benefits.

Around 73,000 people experienced a gap in their payments last year because of late returns.

Seniors Minister Deb Schulte said Service Canada sent reminders to the 63,000 to file their returns, or at least provide the agency with their income information.

She added the government is reaching out through seniors’ organizations and on social media.

As for seniors living in Wood Buffalo, Bussieres suggested the Golden Years Society, which provided assistance with tax filing.

This article includes excerpts from The Canadian Press.