Labour shortages, already a pressing issue for Canadian businesses before the COVID-19 pandemic, are growing and new ones emerging. Yet Canada’s Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and the Alberta Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program claw backs are creating barriers to labour market participation for many employable older adults and for persons with disabilities by discouraging the pursuit of income exceeding set values to qualify for GIS and AISH.


When Canada’s public pension programs were designed over 50 years ago, the average age of the population was under 30. We’re now on average over 40-years-old and living longer. About 23% of the working age population will be 65 years or older by 2024. Between 2021-2024, Canada will lose about 600,000 workers as people age and exceed 65-years-old, lowering the share of the population participating in labour markets.

Our Recommendations

  1. Work with federal, provincial and territory governments, industry and academia to create a modern framework for RIS that includes undertaking a comprehensive review of the GIS income thresholds and claw back rates to allow for higher earnings exemptions and income thresholds, which will incentivize older Canadians to voluntarily delay receiving RIS, delay retirement or enter the labour force after retirement;
  2. Undertake a comprehensive review of the AISH claw backs, striving for a model that allows for higher earnings exemptions and income thresholds before claw backs to incentivize AISH recipients to enter or remain in the labour force; and
  3. Ensure reform encourages and allows as much participation as possible in the workforce for GIS and AISH recipients, helps these individuals stay out of poverty, and allows them to maintain or improve their standard of living.
Download The Policy Brief



If you have any questions, contact Dana Severson at or (780) 425-4180 ext. 2.