The Ontario government is delivering much-needed support to Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens, including seniors and persons with disabilities, during the outbreak of COVID-19. The province is investing $11 million to help deliver meals, medicines and other essentials to those in need and doubling the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments.
Today’s announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
“As we face some of the darkest times in our province’s history, we have a duty to protect and care for the most vulnerable in our society,” said Premier Ford. “Our seniors and people with disabilities are the most at risk during this crisis, and we must go above and beyond to ensure they get financial relief, food, medicine and other essentials without delay.”
The province is working with the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) to launch a new Ontario Community Support Program to expand existing Meals on Wheels services to reach low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions across Ontario. The program will also develop the capacity of community organizations and others to help deliver medication and other essentials.
“We know that the best way we can all take care of ourselves during this outbreak is to stay home,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “For older Ontarians and people with disabilities, this may be especially challenging. That is why I am so proud to see the Ontario Spirit being demonstrated by the volunteers, local not-for-profit organizations, charities and businesses that are helping our most vulnerable through the Ontario Community Support Program.”
This week the province will also be issuing the first doubled Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments. Individuals will receive up to $166 per month and couples will receive up to $332 per month. These doubled payments will continue for six months and provide an additional $75 million to 194,000 vulnerable seniors who may need more help to cover essential expenses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“As part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, we are investing $3.7 billion to provide immediate and direct support to Ontario’s people and employers. It starts with those most in need,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “For our vulnerable seniors, we will double the Guaranteed Annual Income System payment for six months. That will ensure 194,000 of our lowest income seniors will have some extra support during these unprecedented times. The first payment will start to arrive this week and assist low income seniors with their essential expenses when they need it most.”
The province is investing $40 million in the Residential Relief Fund. The funding will assist developmental services, child welfare, victims shelters, and organizations delivering social services to vulnerable First Nations individuals and families with COVID-related costs, such as the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and enhanced staffing. In addition, the government is providing $148 million to municipal partners that administer social services with funding to support the province’s most vulnerable as part of the province’s $200 million in social services relief funding in response to COVID-19.
“Our government is taking decisive action to protect the health and safety of our most vulnerable populations,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “If you have a friend or neighbour who is a senior or a person with a disability, please reach out to them to ensure they have what they need and are doing okay during this very difficult period.”