No need: seniors look to donate COVID-19 cheque

The cheques are being written, but some Manitoba seniors don't feel deserving of a $200 gift from the Pallister government and have no intention of keeping it.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/05/2020 (1005 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The cheques are being written, but some Manitoba seniors don’t feel deserving of a $200 gift from the Pallister government and have no intention of keeping it.

It might be good news for some local not-for-profit organizations.

Premier Brian Pallister announced Tuesday plans for a one-time payout to all Manitobans over 65 to help them deal with additional costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. A day later, many would-be recipients harshly criticized the $45-million Seniors Economic Recovery Credit (going to an estimated 225,000 seniors).

Charleswood resident Bernie Toews said he and his wife, Iris, will turn the money over to a charity, possibly Winnipeg Harvest or Hospitality House Refugee Ministry.

Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press Charleswood residents Iris and Bernie Toews say they will turn their $200 Seniors Economic Recovery Credit over to a charity.

“It’s wrong and very callous. Let’s help the people, the wonderful Manitobans that really need help,” Toews said, during an interview Wednesday. “I’ve lost money and some of my investments went south, but we’re going to be OK. But lots of people aren’t.

“I keep thinking of young people who have mortgages and car payments and kids, activities, clothing and money for a birthday gift. I’d hate to be in their shoes.”

Just 14 per cent of Manitoba seniors who will be receiving a $200 cheque from the province this month live below the poverty line, according to Statistics Canada’s market basket measure, which determines the official poverty line. According to 2016 census data, it’s $18,272 for a single person in Winnipeg.

Toews said the government is pandering to the one group in Manitoba least impacted financially by the novel coronavirus crisis.

“It’s wrong and very callous. Let’s help the people, the wonderful Manitobans that really need help. I’ve lost money and some of my investments went south, but we’re going to be OK. But lots of people aren’t.”
– Bernie Toews

“Health-wise, definitely. But most people who are retired are living within their means and doing OK… Some aren’t, I’m sure, but we’re not the largest group that’s so badly off,” he said. “By the time we retire, you don’t have debt and you just end up doing without. You get used to living a certain way.”

Selkirk resident Olof Hardy has no interest in cashing her cheque when it arrives, either.

“I find it very strange to be sending $200 to all kinds of people who don’t need it, when there are so many others who need it badly. I decided right away: I’m giving mine to the Selkirk food bank,” Hardy said. “I was shocked, and (the province’s move) really offended me. It’s such a shallow way of doing things.”

Hardy, 83, whose husband died in February, said she’s far from wealthy but able to get by.

“I have enough. I’m not hungry and I’m not in need, and I have supportive family,” she said.

Winnipeg senior Wally Jackson said his cheque will go straight to Winnipeg Harvest food bank.

“I’m really not sure what the government’s thinking on this. The explanation is that seniors could really use the money; Pallister’s a senior himself and I don’t think he needs the money,” said Jackson.

“When I retired I did some volunteer work (at the city food bank) and appreciate what they’re doing, and most people do. It seems like they always need donations or cash.”

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, Pallister defended the government’s blanket approach. He said an income-tested program “would have taken months to roll out” and seniors who need support right now wouldn’t have been able to receive it in a timely manner.

“You want to get the money out there. I applaud any Manitoban who wants to donate to a charity or a worthy cause, and I thank those seniors who are able to afford to do that for doing that,” he said.

 

One of Pallister’s assistants said the premier — who turned 65 in July 2019 — will be donating his cheque to charity.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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Updated on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 7:12 PM CDT: fixes typo

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