Up to $500 top-up for seniors set for early July

Total cost of measures pegged at $2.5b

Additional financial help for seniors will be arriving the week of July 6, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The federal government originally pledged on May 12 one-time, tax-free payments of $300 to eligible seniors through the Old Age Security (OAS) pension.

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Those eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will receive $200 on top of the OAS payment, for a total of $500.

Details on the program have been sparse since the initial announcement, other than the cost for the additional support tallies in at $2.5 billion.

The OAS and GIS top-ups come on top of additional GST credits given to 4 million low-income seniors to date.

Trudeau said during his Thursday (June 4) media briefing that the top-ups can help seniors who can’t travel on transit or access sales at stores to offset additional costs of deliveries.

It was the first media briefing Trudeau has held since both Bell Canada and Vancouver-based Telus Corp. announced Tuesday they were opting to develop their 5G networks using equipment from Ericsson and, in the case of Telus, Nokia Corp. as well.

The move falls in line with Rogers Communications Inc.’s longstanding partnership with Ericsson and effectively shuts out Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from the future of Canada’s 5G infrastructure.

Ottawa has been conducting a security review of the Chinese tech giant’s 5G equipment amid concerns from intelligence allies that Huawei could leave the country’s infrastructure vulnerable to espionage.

“Every step of the way we have listened to our security agencies, our intelligences services, worked with our allies — we’ll make the right decision for Canadians to both keep Canadians and businesses safe, while at the same time ensuring competitiveness in our telecom industry,” Trudeau said, referring to whether the federal government will ban Huawei’s 5G technology.

U.S. officials have repeatedly stated Canada risks being shut out of intelligence sharing with American agencies if they do not ban Huawei.

The U.S. and Australia were the first among the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to shut the door on the Chinese company’s equipment.

“These are considerations that we have been looking very carefully at. Obviously, conversations have been extensive with all our Five Eyes allies, including the United States, as we continue to work with security services and intelligence agencies on the right path forward for Canada,” the prime minister said during his Thursday briefing.

Trudeau also addressed new security legislation from Beijing that would clamp down on freedoms enjoyed in semi-autonomous Hong Kong, home to 300,000 Canadian citizens.

“We’re extremely concerned with [mainland China] stepping away from the … one country, two systems agreement that was signed decades ago,” he said.

But the prime minister would not commit to extending additional immigration support to Hong Kongers as the U.K. has done over the past week.

Meanwhile, Trudeau was pressed about the 21-second silence he took Tuesday (June2 ) before responding to a question regarding U.S. President Donald Trump’s urgings to use military force against protesters as well as the use of tear gas to make way for a presidential photo opportunity.

While some have interpreted his silence as a means of condemning Trump’s actions, others saw it as Trudeau’s reluctance to potentially offend the U.S. president amid mass protests stemming from the death of unarmed black man George Floyd during a confrontation with police.

“Canadians expect me to stand up for their values and their interests, and that’s what I’ve done in my entire time as prime minister, whether it be with the United States or with other countries around the world,” he said when asked to explain his silence.

torton@biv.com

@reporton

© Kamsack Times

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