Minister of Health Patty Hajdu looks on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday March 11, 2020. (Photo: AP)
OTTAWA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Tuesday to provide 2.5 billion Canadian dollars (about 1.8 billion U.S. dollars) to help seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the announcement, senior Canadians will be receiving a one-time payment of up to 500 Canadian dollars (about 355 U.S. dollars) to help offset any increases in the cost of living due to COVID-19.
Any senior who is eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive a payment of 300 Canadian dollars (about 213 U.S. dollars), and an additional 200 Canadian dollars will be sent to seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). No application is required to receive this one-time payment.
Canadian seniors are facing additional economic challenges as many live on a fixed income and have expressed concerns about their ability to make ends meet during the pandemic time.
There are currently 6.7 million seniors who are eligible for the OAS pension and 2.2 million who are eligible for the GIS in the country.
Canadian seniors also continue to be hardest hit by COVID-19, with deadly outbreaks in long-term care homes across Canada.
Some 20 percent of the more than 71,000 COVID-19 cases in Canada are linked to long-term care homes, while 80 percent of the more than 5,000 deaths in Canada are seniors who live in long term care and assisted living facilities.
Trudeau said the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 has exposed some uncomfortable truths, "including how we care for seniors in Canada."
"We've seen heartbreaking tragedies in long-term care facilities and nursing homes right across the country. Overworked staff. Understaffed residences. Grieving families. There are serious, underlying challenges facing these facilities. And in the coming months, the federal government will be there to help the provinces find lasting solutions," he said.
The Trudeau government has reached agreements with the provinces and territories to top up the wages of some essential front-line workers including those in long-term care facilities.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 71,105 COVID-19 cases and 5,167 deaths reported in the country.