Pension increase leaves Crofton senior with less income

A Crofton pensioner is disgusted that what the Government of Canada gives with one hand it takes away with the other.

A Crofton pensioner is disgusted that what the Government of Canada gives with one hand it takes away with the other.

Mary E. Smith, 77, on hearing on the TV that she could expect to see more on her pension cheque, was surprised.

“There was an announcement on the news about an increase in the pension but when I looked at my papers [from the bank] and I couldn’t see any bloody increase,” she said Tuesday.

There was extra money, though, just enough to bite her.

“It turned out that it was $38.25. But giving me that increase meant they could deduct the Guaranteed Income Supplement off me. That’s $200 a month gone,” Smith said.

So she actually saw less money going into her account.

“Now my Canada pension is down from $728.95 to $573.37. That’s close to $200, because I had applied for the Guaranteed Income Supplement. I think they did that on purpose, that increase, so they could take that away from us,” she said.

“You have to fill out a paper so they can figure out if you’re eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Now I’m over the top,” she said.

It was not a nice surprise.

“It’s really a stab in the back,” she said. “I’d imagine there are an awful lot of people around with the same problem. Is this a democracy?”

The government has confirmed by letter that she is no longer entitled to the Guaranteed Income Supplement going forward, and Smith is not pleased.

“That is a terrible big difference in somebody’s income,” she said. She hasn’t received her August cheque yet.

Smith said she hasn’t contacted her MP, Alistair MacGregor yet. He could not be reached by the Citizen by press time.

Smith is unhappy about the change.

“They’re hurting old people while they’re broadcasting it over the news that they’re increasing pensions,” she said.

Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley said there’s no way he can help Smith himself because Canada Pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement is entirely under federal jurisdiction.

However, he had sympathy for her situation.

“Isn’t that terrible. They need a mathematician to look at that because that’s not right. it’s ridiculous,” he said.

However hard it may seem, the Guaranteed Income Supplement is not handed out by the federal government based on individual need, according to Josh Bueckert, media relations at Employment and Social Development Canada, the ministry which covers pensions.

“It’s an income tested benefit. Based on your income, a low-income person can get the GIS. We have full tables on our website that show what the income thresholds for the Guaranteed Income Supplement are. It’s not needs-based,” he said.