Newsletter – February 2011

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February 2011 Newsletter for Seniors on Vancouver Island

This month’s newsletter exposes the shocking news that hundreds of thousands of Canadian seniors are not receiving the benefits they are entitled to. Your family members, friends and neighbours could be among that number. Let’s look after each other and ensure that everyone gets the benefits they deserve. The article below, which details this issue, is based on the report released by the Task Force on Financial Literacy.

Billions in Government Benefits Unclaimed: Report

Language and poverty, along with complicated application forms, make it difficult for many Canadians to access support

By Andrew Duffy, Postmedia News, February 10, 2011

Billions of dollars worth of government benefits are going unclaimed by Canadians, says a federal task force on financial literacy.

The task force, which reported Wednesday, said the government should simplify its programs and application forms to ensure more Canadians benefit from the financial support to which they’re entitled.

The recommendation is one of 30 contained in the report, Canadians and their Money, which sets out a national strategy to raise financial literacy levels.

Improving Canadians’ money management is considered critical given the country’s mounting consumer debt and the large cohort of baby boomers who have not saved enough for their retirement years.

The report urges provinces to add financial literacy to school curricula and suggests that businesses make it part of workplace training programs.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty received the report at a news conference in the offices of Entraide budgetaire, a non-profit financial ounseling service in Ottawa.

Task force chair Donald Stewart, chief executive officer of Sun Life Financial Inc., said Canadians need more help making financial decisions. “Some are small, others are critical,” he said. “For most Canadians, making the right decisions, or putting them off entirely, can have a major impact on our financial well-being, even our health and happiness.”

The 13-member task force found that Canadians are missing out on “substantial financial support” offered by the federal government.

It noted:

  • Roughly 160,000 eligible seniors do not receive the Old Age Security benefit, representing almost $1 billion in benefits.
  • Another 150,000 eligible seniors do not receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
  • About 55,000 eligible Canadians are not receiving Canada Pension Plan benefits.
  • Less than half (40 per cent) of eligible families have taken advantage of the Canada Education Savings Grant, a federal contribution to a Registered Educations Savings Plan (RESP).
  • Only 16 per cent of eligible families have received a Canada Learning Bond. The program is designed to help low-income parents build an RESP through an initial $500 grant and $100 annual grants.

In any given year, about 31 per cent of eligible taxpayers make an RRSP contribution.

A research report prepared for the task force examined why some government programs have such poor “take-up” rates. Those rates are considered an important measure of financial literacy.

The report said language and poverty often present barriers, particularly when the programs or application forms are complex. “Lower-income Canadians face distinct financial literacy challenges in being aware of and accessing the very government programs that are targeted to them.”

© Copyright © The Vancouver Sun

Our Comments

Roy Summerhayes Seniors 101

This is yet another example of government loosing sight of its reason for being, namely to serve the public, and becoming totally self-serving instead. If any one of the thousands of seniors listed above ‘owed one dollar’ to Revenue Canada they would immediately be subjected to the what ever means that the Feds have to affect recovery.

So why isn’t the same effort made to ensure that all Seniors are receiving the benefits that they are entitled to? The federal government knows who all these unfortunate people are courtesy of Revenue Canada via their records regarding income tax, census returns and numerous other agencies. The government cannot claim that this section of society is an unknown to them. They have after all been in the various systems for a long time. They were instrumental in building this country and paying their fair share of taxes to make Canada what it is today. The agencies responsible for this scenario know exactly who these unfortunate souls are, including their dates of birth, and can see that they are not receiving the assistance they may be entitled to.

This is socially, financially and morally a blight on whom we are as Canadians.

Roy Summerhayes

For the report by the TASK FORCE ON FINANCIAL LITERACY, visit