Reaction continues to pour in on the federal government’s assistance for seniors during COVID-19.

Ottawa is providing a one-time, tax-free payment of $300 on the Old Age Supplement (OAS), and $200 for those receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie told Vista Radio she understands the public’s frustration that it isn’t enough money, but it’s a good starting point.

“It is effective to get a lump sum of money in people’s bank accounts rather quickly and that’s the intent here, that everybody who gets GIS will effectively get $500 and everyone who receives OAS will receive $300, they’ll automatically get it.”

The funding has been met with some criticism stating our most vulnerable population isn’t being well taken care of during COVID-19.

“Seniors sitting there seeing all of these groups getting money and they aren’t getting any money although the BC government did give low-income seniors a supplement as they receive $300 a month for three months, which is an additional nine hundred dollar boost, which is very significant,” added Mackenzie.

“We need to remember that seniors’ incomes have not been impacted by COVID-19. People who have jobs have has their income been impacted and some seniors do work and have jobs but they would potentially be able to access the CERB (Canadian Emergency Response Benefit) grants and other income replacement initiatives that have been put out there.”

“However, what is happening, and it didn’t happen overnight, it’s not like I stopped getting my pension cheque the next day the way some people stopped getting their paycheque but certain expenses have risen and it builds up a little bit over time. I think people are now starting to notice that my office is hearing about quite a bit is the cost of groceries.”

Mackenzie adds the federal government previously announced a 10% increase to the Old Age Supplement for anyone over the age of 75 starting July 1st but it’s unclear whether that will happen while the pandemic is still ongoing.

The pandemic is putting a damper on the type of activities seniors can participate in, especially when it comes to shopping.

“Many seniors, particularly those who are on a lower income go out and look at the different stores and find the specials and their ability to do that has been hindered by the COVID restrictions requiring them to stay put and have someone give them their groceries.”

The provincial Seniors Advocate finds it heartwarming that all levels of government and society show an increased commitment to ensuring our seniors feel safe, well cared for, and can live a dignified life.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed holes in how we care for our seniors in long-term care homes.

On Tuesday, he noted there are serious underlying challenges facing facilities that are home to the country’s seniors including caretakers who are overwhelmed.

Mackenzie stated the public health emergency revealed the fault lines.

“You don’t understand the challenges with a weak foundation until something happens and the foundation can no longer hold up the house. I think that’s what we have been dealing with in our long term care system throughout the country including British Columbia.”

“Some of it is related to funding, some of it is related to the model we employ to long-term care and some of it is related to the incentives within that model of care.”

Mackenzie concluded now that we can see what’s happening we need more staff in our long-term care homes and we need to have sufficient incentives in place and the staff is respected and supported and have the proper training to deal with infectious control outbreaks.