Older seniors who qualify for Old Age Security (OAS) are getting $500 from the federal government this week.
They need to be eligible for OAS in June 2021 and born on or before June 30, 1947. There's no need to apply and the money will automatically be deposited into their account.
Cheques go out this week, but Ottawa says delays are expected if mailed outside of Canada.
The federal government says the one-time payment is meant to help older seniors because they face higher financial pressures since they tend to have lower incomes and often face higher health-related expenses, all while they are more likely to be unable to work, have disabilities or be widowed.
"The Government of Canada is providing older seniors more help with the higher costs later in life. The one-time payment and the increase to the OAS pension for seniors aged 75 and up will strengthen seniors' financial security and help provide more support to all Canadians when they are planning their retirement," said Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors.
This is a taxable benefit but it will not affect the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) calculation for future years. Eligible seniors will get this one-time payment regardless if they collect GIS.
Bill VanGorder, chief operating and policy officer of C.A.R.P., expressed concern about discrimination.
"The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (C.A.R.P.), representing more than 320,000 older Canadians, is calling on the Liberal government to increase Old Age Security benefits by 10 per cent for all eligible seniors, starting at age 65," VanGorder told Yahoo Finance Canada.
"The fact that the increase would only be available to those aged 75 and over is unacceptable. This measure discriminates on the basis of age and risks setting a dangerous precedent by creating two classes of seniors."
Ottawa says 98 per cent of OAS recipients get their pension by direct deposit and this one-time payment will benefit 3.3 million seniors.
This isn't the first time the federal Liberals have provided a one-time payment to seniors. Low-income couples got more than $1,500 during the pandemic. In April 2020, more than four million low and middle-income seniors received a GST credit top-up for an average of $375 for individuals and $510 for couples. In July 2020, there was a one-time tax-free $300 payment to 6.7 million OAS pensioners and an additional $200 to 2.2 million seniors eligible for the GIS.
Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.