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Regina woman stranded after Service Canada changes pension amount
A 71 year-old senior in Regina says she is stuck in bureaucratic red tape waiting for Service Canada to restore her benefits while receiving help from Mobile Crisis and Carmichael Outreach.
Jillian Le Drew has been staying at the Quality Hotel in downtown Regina with her cat Courage for the last seven days.
“We just need a place to go and feel secure. Safe and secure,” said Le Drew.
Le Drew receives just over $1,500 a month from her Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Survivor’s Pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
In July, Service Canada required Le Drew to fill out a T4A Statement of Pension form but Le Drew says she did not receive a letter to inform her to do this.
“It stresses you even more than if you’re younger. I said, ‘You know this is an awful shock, you should have sent me a letter, informed me. I never received this T4A that you’re talking about,’” said Le Drew.
By August, Le Drew’s Survivor’s Pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement were withheld, an amount of $589.
“That’s when everything started falling apart,” added Le Drew.
Le Drew’s monthly rent was $660 but Le Drew is also diabetic and depends on her benefits to help pay for her expensive medication and to eat the right food. She informed the property manager of her situation; however she was evicted with nowhere to go and no immediate family to help.
“They don’t want to hear stories. They want money or you hit the streets,” said Le Drew.
Carmichael Outreach has been assisting Le Drew and helping her find a new home. They say Le Drew’s story is just one of many.
“We’ve already had to give out 26 tents to people that just had nowhere else to go and that’s just been in the last couple of weeks so it’s clear that this situation is extreme. We’re told as a community that vacancy rates are going up but the problem with that is while the vacancy rates are going up the affordable vacancy rates are not,” said Rochelle Berenyi, communications advocacy and projects officer with Carmichael Outreach.
“We are so thankful to Carmichael Outreach and Mobile Crisis because if it wasn’t for these services, we would be living in the park, getting sicker,” said Le Drew.
Le Drew says she has sent in the paper work and it is currently being processed. She also says Social Services are helping her with the forms.
Service Canada could not comment on Le Drew’s case but they did say in generality, they are doing everything they can to assist those in need.