Citizenship Matters: Re-examining Income (In)Security of Immigrant Seniors

Through extensive consultation with their constituents, APG has recognized the fact that the existing income security policy significantly impacts the well-being of senior members of immigrant communities In principle, the Old Age Security (OAS) Program is set up to provide income security to Canadian seniors. It is not based on any personal financial contribution; and in general people aged 65 or up can apply. There is, however, a 10 year residence requirement in order to qualify. In order to receive the maximum amount, a person must have lived in Canada for 40 years after age 18. Being excluded from the OAS and therefore also denied access to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), immigrant seniors who came under sponsorship by their family become very vulnerable to poverty and social isolation when sponsorship breaks down. Compounded with other intersecting issues like language barriers, cultural differences, ever-increasing cost of living, lack of affordable social housing, immigrant seniors are often entrapped in social isolation and financial dependence.

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