Vol. 151, No. 23 — November 15, 2017
SI/2017-67 November 15, 2017
JOBS, GROWTH AND LONG-TERM PROSPERITY ACT
Order Fixing November 27, 2017 as the Day on which Certain Sections of the Act Come into Force
P.C. 2017-1292 October 26, 2017
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Employment and Social Development, pursuant to subsection 467(1) of the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, chapter 19 of the Statutes of Canada, 2012, fixes November 27, 2017 as the day on which sections 454 to 458 of that Act come into force.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
The Order fixes November 27, 2017, as the day on which sections 454, 455, 456, 457 and 458 of the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, chapter 19 of the Statutes of Canada (the Act) come into force.
The coming into force of sections 454, 455, 456, 457 and 458 of the Act make effective the amendments to the Old Age Security Act (OAS Act) that allow for the automatic enrolment of eligible individuals for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
These amendments to the OAS Act were made to relieve administrative pressures on the Old Age Security (OAS) program related to the aging population, while improving service delivery and ensuring that the program continues to meet the changing expectations of seniors.
Automatic enrolment allows the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to waive the requirement for an initial GIS application if the Minister is satisfied that the person is entitled to the GIS at age 65, and can determine the amount payable.
The objective of the OAS program is to ensure a minimum income to seniors and help reduce the incidence of low income among Canada’s seniors.
OAS benefits include the basic pension, which is paid to all individuals aged 65 and older who meet the residence requirements, and the GIS for low-income seniors. The GIS provides financial assistance to seniors who have little or no income other than the OAS pension. The GIS is income-tested to ensure that the highest benefits are provided to the lowest-income seniors, and is paid at different rates based on whether an individual is single or part of a couple.
The Act, which received royal assent on June 29, 2012, includes various amendments to the OAS Act intended to improve service and introduce administrative efficiency. In particular, it contains amendments designed to allow for the automatic enrolment of eligible individuals for OAS benefits.
Automatic enrolment for the OAS pension has already been implemented in two phases. The first phase began in April 2013 with the selection of individuals who, at age 64, have participated in the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Québec Pension Plan (QPP) for 40 years or more and who are in receipt of, or are approved for, payment of a CPP or QPP Retirement, Disability or Survivor pension. The second phase, which was implemented on November 1, 2016, is the automatic enrolment of individuals who, at age 64, have participated in the CPP or QPP for 40 years or more, are not in receipt of, or approved for, payment of a CPP or QPP Retirement, Disability or Survivor pension at the time of selection but have 40 years of tax filing information with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to substantiate their residence in Canada.
The third phase of automatic enrolment will focus on the GIS.
Currently, GIS recipients have their benefits automatically renewed each year, provided that they file an annual income tax return. However, the OAS Act still requires that individuals submit an initial application and provide the necessary information to determine eligibility for the GIS.
In order to waive the requirement for the initial GIS application, the Minister will determine income and marital status by leveraging existing data from the CRA and within the Department. The selection of individuals for GIS automatic enrolment will occur if, at age 64, these individuals fall below the GIS income cut-off threshold. For seniors who are married or in a common-law relationship, their spouse’s or common-law partner’s personal information must already be available within the Department.
The amendments to the OAS Act contained in sections 454, 455, 456, 457 and 458 of the Act are necessary for Service Canada to have the authority to begin to automatically enroll individuals for the GIS.
— provide the Minister with the discretion to waive the requirement for an initial application for the GIS at age 65, when the Minister is satisfied that, on the basis of the information obtained under the OAS Act, the individual meets the eligibility requirements for the benefit;
— require that the Minister inform the individual of the information that will be used to approve the payment of the GIS and require the individual to correct any inaccuracies regarding the information on which the Minister intends to rely. Spouses and common-law partners will be notified separately and will be required to correct any inaccuracies with respect to their personal information and marital status;
— allow a person, before the day on which they attain 65 years of age, to decline a waiver of the requirement for an application.
— provide the Minister with the discretion to request a GIS application from an individual who was informed that they would be waived (for example, if new information was discovered by the Department, which called eligibility into question); and
— allow the Minister to cancel the GIS after the commencement of payment upon request from the recipient, in which case the amount of any supplement received is repaid and the GIS deemed not to have been payable.
Automatic enrolment allows the Minister of ESDC to leverage data that is already available within the Department, or accessible in existing data holdings from federal and provincial/territorial partners via information-sharing agreements, to help determine eligibility.
The coming into force of these sections will have a beneficial impact on many Canadian seniors by enabling automatic enrolment for the GIS, thus eliminating the need to submit an application to receive the supplement.
It will also lead to administrative efficiency for the Department and offset projected operational pressures as the Department would be able to reduce the amount of paper applications it processes for the GIS.
The amendments to the OAS Act were included in the Act, and were discussed at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, as well as at the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance. In addition, during the public comment periods following pre-publication in the Canada Gazette of Phases 1 and 2, the Department was not made aware of any particular concerns with this initiative.
Old Age Security Policy and Public Pension Statistics
Income Security and Social Development Branch
Employment and Social Development Canada
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