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Canada offers seniors $500 each for pandemic expenses

A man gestures to healthcare workers as he visits his mother-in-law at a Toronoto assisted living center on Mother's Day: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a onetime payment to seniors to help them through the coronavirus pandemic - Cole Burston / ©AFP
A man gestures to healthcare workers as he visits his mother-in-law at a Toronoto assisted living center on Mother's Day: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a onetime payment to seniors to help them through the coronavirus pandemic - Cole Burston / ©AFP

(AFP)

Canada announced Tuesday a onetime payment of up to Can$500 (US$360) for seniors — who as a group have suffered the most COVID-19 sickness and fatalities — to help defray added pandemic costs of living.

An estimated seven million elderly Canadians qualify for the aid.

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“The last few weeks have been particularly tough for our seniors and their families,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a daily briefing.

“Our parents and our grandparents are most at risk of catching the COVID-19 virus and of suffering the most serious consequences right across the country,” he said.

The pandemic, he said, exposed shortfalls in care at nursing homes, where roughly 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Canada occurred. The crisis led to the military being sent in to help feed and care for residents.

A lockdown has also left many elderly Canadians isolated, and facing additional costs for prescription drugs or grocery deliveries, for example, “which means they can’t take advantage of sales in stores,” Trudeau said.

“It’s hard on their morale, as well as on their finances,” he said.

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