My constituency office in Castlegar has recently heard from many concerned seniors who did not receive their pension cheques as usual in October and November. When my assistant followed up with Service Canada, she was told that the SC regional offices had received thousands of complaints from seniors who found themselves in the same situation.
Service Canada explained that they suspended the pension payments of individuals who have not updated their mailing addresses, whose T-4 pension slips had been returned to Service Canada as “undeliverable,” and who Service Canada could not get hold of in any other way. Unfortunately, this heavy-handed approach has meant hardship for many seniors who rely on their pension cheques for the basic necessities of life. It can take Service Canada upward of seven business days to release a cheque once they are able to make contact with a pensioner. In the meantime, rent cheques are late, cupboards are empty, and people are panicked because of money shortages.
When my assistant questioned the need for such extreme action, she was told that this “T-4 return policy” was implemented for “security reasons,” so that cheques did not continue to be sent to an individual who was deceased, or had moved away. This may sound reasonable, but the reality is that some of the seniors my office has spoken to have had no such changes. They are being punished because of an administrative situation that could have been handled much more simply.
One constituent wrote to me about her experience when she contacted Service Canada: “I spoke with a very polite man but the only reason he could give me for the ‘glitch’ was that I could not be found because they had no physical address—really. I was born in this country, I have lived my whole life in BC, I have worked from the age of 18 years in BC. I retired in 2001 and have been receiving my pension cheques uninterrupted. The last time I moved was 1981.”
I would encourage any pensioner who has not received their cheques to contact my Castlegar office for assistance, 250-365-2792, 1-800-667-2393, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alex Atamanenko, MP
BC Southern Interior