British Columbia

Low-income senior says she was kicked off COVID-19 subsidy after going just $4 over threshold

A low-income senior in Courtenay, B.C., says a tiny change to her income got her kicked off a provincial COVID-19 subsidy. She says the government has failed her and she worries about how many other seniors have found themselves in the same situation.

Sheila Chaisson, 67, is unable to access $300 subsidy because of tiny change in income

Vancouver Island senior Sheila Chaisson says she feels abandoned by the government after she lost access to a monthly COVID-19 subsidy due to a small increase in income. (aboikis / Shutterstock)

A senior on Vancouver Island says a tiny change in her income got her kicked off the provincial COVID-19 subsidy.

Sheila Chaisson, 67, from Courtenay, B.C., has a disability and receives a guaranteed income from the federal government. Up until June of this year she was also receiving the B.C. Senior's Supplement, which allowed her to access an extra $300 monthly in COVID-19 support.

"But then I did my income taxes and I was $4 over the threshold," she said.

Chaisson's income consists predominantly of her federal Old Age Security and guaranteed income supplement payouts, as well as payments from her Canada Pension Plan. This year her CPP paid out slightly more, bringing her monthly income to $1,583 — a mere $4 more than the maximum income she is allowed to receive in order to still benefit from the senior's supplement.

'I can't afford to... buy anything'

Chaisson says losing out on the monthly $300 COVID-19 relief has had stark consequences.

"I can't afford to go out and buy anything," she said.

"I've really had to stretch to afford masks and sanitizer and all the things I need through the pandemic."

CBC contacted the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction but has yet to receive comment. 

In a written statement, staff wrote that the maximum income threshold to access the B.C. Senior's Supplement is based on a sliding scale that looks at a senior's income and that "once a person's income goes over that threshold, by any amount, they are no longer eligible for the program."

Chaisson says she feels angry, hurt and abandoned during such a difficult time. She says the government has failed her and she worries about how many other seniors have found themselves in the same situation.

"I hear on the news how [the government] is helping people in B.C., but I'm sitting here struggling," she said.

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