There’s a Range of Government Programs Just for Seniors

Your entire adult life you’ve worked hard and have done the right things. You’ve been an active part of the community; you’ve raised a family and you’ve paid your taxes. You’ve been a contributing member of society. Now you’ve reached that point in your life when you get to slow down a little and live life at your own pace, enjoying the rewards you’ve earned through your own efforts. To help make the Golden Yearsglisten even brighter, the provincial and federal governments have created a variety of programs and resources tailored specifically to the needs of seniors. Here is a snapshot look at some of the main ones.


Old Age Security (OAS) / Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

Two of the main federal government programs for seniors, the Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) have been created to allow citizens over the age of 65 to live independent lives, even if they have a separate pension they’ve been paying into from their working lives. The amount a recipient is eligible to receive is dependent on that person’s income and can vary from individual to individual.

Also remember that Canada’s public pension programs are considered income. Applicants and recipients of income assistance, disability
assistance, hardship assistance or funding from any other program listed below are required to claim them as income at tax time. Always check with your accountant or other tax professional to ensure proper procedures are being followed.

The Government of Canada offers multiple public pension programs for seniors. A few of the most common public pension benefits include Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement, CPP Disability, CPP Post-Retirement Disability Benefits, Allowance for the Survivor and others in addition to the primary Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement as outlined above. Each of these pension programs have distinct eligibility requirements, so check with the government to see what programs or pensions you might be eligible for.

Canada Pension Plan

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement benefit is a monthly, taxable benefit that replaces part of an individual’s employment income when they retire. CPP is available to individuals who have made contributions to the plan through employment in Canada or another eligible country, or as the result of receiving credits from a former spouse or former common-law partner at the end of the relationship. Individuals must apply to Service Canada to receive CPP.

Canada Pension Plan Post-Retirement Disability Benefits

The Canada Pension Plan Post-Retirement Disability Benefits (PRDB) is a monthly benefit for CPP retirement pension recipients between the age of 60 and 65 who have made sufficient contributions to the CPP and are unable to work regularly because of a disability. PRDB is for CPP retirement pension beneficiaries found to have a disability, but not eligible for CPPD because they already received CPP for more than 15 months.

Allowance (GIS Benefit)

The Allowance is a benefit available to low-income individuals aged 60 to 64 who are the spouse or common-law partner of a GIS recipient. Individuals must apply to Service Canada to receive the Allowance. Individuals must file their income taxes on time each year for Service Canada to determine their eligibility for the Allowance.

Allowance for the Survivor (GIS Benefit)

The Allowance for the Survivor is a benefit available to people aged 60 to 64 who have a low income, who are living in Canada, and whose spouse or common-law partner has died. Individuals must apply to Service Canada to receive the Allowance for the Survivor. Individuals must file their income taxes on time each year for Service Canada to determine their eligibility for the Allowance for the Survivor.

Senior’s Supplement

The Senior’s Supplement is a provincial top-up to the Government of Canada’s Guaranteed Income Supplement payment (GIS). The Senior’s Supplement is paid monthly to eligible low-income residents of BC who receive GIS or the Allowance through the Old Age Security pension program. Seniors must apply for GIS through Service Canada. Once approved for GIS, eligible low-income seniors will receive the Senior’s Supplement automatically.


In British Columbia there are various programs specifically designed for seniors. These include the Senior’s Supplement, BC Bus Pass and Life- Threatening Health Needs are all available to all eligible low-income seniors in BC and are not limited to income assistance, hardship assistance or disability assistance recipients.

Bus Pass for Low-Income Seniors

An annual bus pass is available to help eligible low-income seniors participate more fully in their communities. The bus pass covers BC provincial transit systems. There is an annual administration fee of $45 for the bus pass.

Medical Services Only

Medical Services Only (MSO) assists certain former income assistance and disability assistance recipients to maintain access to specific health supplements when they no longer qualify for assistance due to certain types of income that exceeds their assistance rates.

Life-Threatening Health Needs

The provincial Ministry of Health may provide access to specific medical equipment, medical supplies, or medical transportation to some low-income British Columbians who are not otherwise eligible to access these supports, but who face a direct and imminent life-threatening health need and have no other resources to meet that need.

A person would be considered eligible as a life-threatening health needs client if the ministry is satisfied that all eligibility criteria is met. Once approved as a life-threatening health needs client, the client must meet the eligibility criteria and follow the procedures outlined for the specific supplement that has been requested.

If you need any support or if you have any questions of government support please contact Ian Thompson: