Federal income support for seniors can help end homelessness

By Nick Falvo, Ph.D, Director, Research and Data, Calgary Homeless Foundation

A recent news article serves as a reminder of the crucial role that can be played by the federal government in ending homelessness.  The article in question discusses a scenario in which a Calgary man who’d been living for five years at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre was finally able to access permanent housing once he turned 65.  According to the article, reaching the age of 65 meant that the man was “now eligible for Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement, and that helped him secure a spot in the Calgary Drop-In’s affordable apartments.”

Indeed, reaching age 65 in Canada generally means a substantial ‘pay raise’ for social assistance recipients, and that’s the topic of a recent study I co-authored that was published by How Ottawa Spends, an annual publication of Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration.  The study’s other co-authors were Allan Moscovitch and David Macdonald.

The study argues—among other things—that if the age of eligibility for Old Age Security were to move from 65 to 67 (a policy which the former federal government had announced, but that the current federal government has since reversed course on) the percentage of Canadians aged 65 and 66 living in poverty would see a very substantial rise.  In the study, we estimate the rise in poverty with the help of Statistics Canada’s Social Policy Simulation Database and Model.

A lengthy blog post which provides a good summary of the study can be found here.  The study itself can be found here.


The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.