The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a government-run program designed to provide additional financial support to eligible low-income seniors in Canada. The purpose of the program is to ensure that all seniors have access to a basic standard of living and to reduce the extent of poverty among older Canadians. The GIS is a supplement to the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, which is a monthly benefit paid to eligible seniors who have reached the age of 65.
Eligibility: To be eligible for the GIS, seniors must meet certain criteria, including:
- Age: The senior must be 65 years of age or older.
- Residency: The senior must be a Canadian resident and must have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after the age of 18.
- Income: The senior’s income must be below a certain level, which is determined by the government each year.
Table 1: GIS eligibility based on combined income
|Combined Income||Maximum GIS Benefit|
|$24,576 or less||$947.93/month|
|$24,576 to $30,453||$740.84/month|
|$30,453 or more||$0/month|
Source: Government of Canada (2022)
The amount of GIS that a senior is eligible to receive is calculated based on their combined income, which is the sum of their Old Age Security (OAS) pension and any other income they may have, such as a pension from a former employer, employment income, or investment income. The government sets a maximum income level each year above which seniors are no longer eligible to receive the GIS. The GIS benefit is calculated as 50% of the difference between the senior’s combined income and the maximum income level.
According to a report by the Conference Board of Canada, seniors are one of the fastest-growing segments of the Canadian population, and the number of seniors living in poverty is expected to rise over the next few decades. This highlights the importance of programs like the GIS in ensuring that all seniors have access to a basic standard of living, regardless of their financial situation.
The GIS program was first introduced in 1967 as a way to supplement the Old Age Security (OAS) pension and help reduce poverty among seniors. Over the years, the program has been expanded and adjusted to reflect the changing needs of seniors in Canada.
In recent years, there have been calls from advocacy groups and some politicians to increase the amount of GIS benefits for seniors and make the program more accessible. Some have argued that the current benefits are not enough to cover the basic needs of many seniors, particularly those who are living alone and have limited other sources of income.
A real-world example of someone who may be eligible for the GIS is a senior who is 65 years or older, has lived in Canada for at least 10 years, and has a combined income of $24,576 or less. This senior would be eligible to receive a monthly GIS benefit of $947.93, which would help to supplement their Old Age Security (OAS) pension and provide additional financial support.
- The GIS program provides additional financial support to eligible low-income seniors, helping to ensure that they have access to a basic standard of living.
- The program is flexible, allowing seniors to receive the GIS benefit even if they have other sources of income
- The income threshold for eligibility for the GIS can be relatively low, meaning that some seniors who are in need may not receive the benefit.
- The program is not universally available to all seniors, regardless of their financial situation, which can lead to disparities in access to financial support.
- The GIS benefit may not be enough to cover the basic needs of all seniors, particularly those who are living alone and have limited other sources of income.
The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is an important program for seniors in Canada, providing additional financial support to eligible low-income individuals. The program is flexible and allows seniors to receive the GIS benefit even if they have other sources of income. However, there are also some drawbacks to the program, including the low income threshold for eligibility and the fact that the GIS benefit may not be enough to cover the basic needs of all seniors. Overall, the GIS is an important tool in ensuring that all seniors have access to a basic standard of living and reducing poverty among older Canadians.
- Government of Canada. (2022). Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
- Conference Board of Canada. (2021). Canada’s Aging Population: Challenges and Opportunities. https://www.conferenceboard.ca/research/publications/canada-aging-population-challenges-and-opportunities.