Immigrant seniors will not be able to get the guaranteed income supplement (GIS) unless they have been in the country for 20 years or more. This time frame change doubles the time from 10 to 20 years and hits at low income seniors who must rely on continued family sponsorship. Why should immigrant seniors have different rights? For other Canadians 10 years of residency is enough to apply for OAS and GIS.
The new measure which was never previously discussed or ever mentioned as a possibility was buried in the Bill C-31 the monster 380 page Budget Implementation Bill tabled on March 28, 2014 on a Friday afternoon.
Kenney was defending his government’s policy Friday that makes it harder for elderly immigrants to receive taxpayer subsidies.
The Guaranteed Income Supplement is provided to the poorest Canadians in old age. Immigrants who arrive under the parents and grandparents program has traditionally been able to qualify for GIS after living here 10 years. Through that program, the immigrant is sponsored by a family member who signs a declaration saying they bear financial responsibility for the relative for 10 years.
The measure, brought in through the budget implementation bill, proposes to extend the sponsorship period from 10 to 20 years and disallows immigrants from applying for GIS while they are sponsored.
“We’re all for family reunification but you should be responsible as a family unit and not expect taxpayers to provide income support to people who have frankly in most cases not paid taxes to Canada,” Kenney said. “I think everyone agrees with that.”
NDP MP Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe says that puts a burden on families who may not be able to afford it.
“Family reunification shouldn’t be a luxury,” she said. “If a family has to pay for 10 more years, it’s more difficult for them to spend money in the community.”
The measure won’t be applied retroactively and the government anticipates a savings of $700 million annually, but only after being in place for several years.