DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Seniors can sigh a breath of relief as guaranteed income supplement payments previously cut for those who received CERB benefits in 2020 will be repaid for the loss.

The announcement from the federal government came on March 3rd, which said it is providing up to $742.4 million in one-time payments to an estimated 183,000 GIS recipients and 21,000 Allowance recipients who received pandemic benefits in 2020 and faced a reduction or loss of GIS benefits in July 2021.

Payments will be delivered automatically by direct deposit on April 19th, or by cheque by the end of the month, the government said.

Linda Studley, co-ordinator for the Better at Home program in Dawson Creek, says the sudden payment may cause some confusion and anxiety for seniors who may be unaware why they’re receiving the money.

“It’s out there online, but there’s probably going to be a lot of seniors who are suddenly going to get this large payment, and they’re going to have no idea where it came from,” she said. “Or they’re going to be worried that there was a mistake made.”

“The most important thing is to get the information out there that this is OK, you’re being reimbursed for what you lost, what was taken from you,” Studley said.

Studley said the payments are not taxable and will not affect seniors going into next year’s tax season, noting GIS payments make up roughly half of the income seniors live on.

“When CERB came out, a lot of seniors didn’t know what they were signing up for or that they would be taxed, since it made their incomes look larger,” she said. “This is very very good news for those seniors.”