BC ranked worst amongst provinces for supporting seniors: Advocate

Isobel Mackenzie’s record launched Thursday, BC Seniors: Falling Further Behind, discovered that the federal Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan bills seniors obtain no longer larger sufficient to hide emerging prices.

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VICTORIA — BC’s seniors recommend slammed the provincial executive Thursday for offering the bottom stage of economic give a boost to for seniors of any provinces as a record presentations folks 65 and older are drowning below the burden of emerging prices.

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Isobel Mackenzie’s record discovered that federal Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan bills seniors obtain no longer larger sufficient to hide emerging prices of groceries, dental care, house care, area upkeep and different necessities.

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“BC seniors are not getting the same level of financial support and services as seniors in other provinces and territories across the country,” Mackenzie mentioned at a information convention in Victoria.

Mackenzie mentioned 45 according to cent of the province’s a million seniors survive lower than the minimal salary and 25 according to cent survive lower than $21,000 a 12 months, in comparison to the $51,170 annual revenue won through the working-age inhabitants. She famous the minimal salary has larger 40 according to cent within the remaining 5 years however pension earning have most effective risen 14 according to cent in that length.

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Linda, a 71-year-old who lives in a backed housing construction in South Surrey funded through the Crescent Housing Society, mentioned decrease revenue seniors are being “ignored” through the federal government.

“When people think of seniors, they think of people who own their own home or who are on some kind of wonderful work pension,” mentioned Linda, who didn’t wish to give her remaining identify as a result of she apprehensive about stigma associated with being a low -income senior.

Linda, who lives on $19,000 a 12 months, mentioned BC Housing has “failed miserably” relating to offering inexpensive housing for low-income seniors. She mentioned she was once fortunate to search out one-bedroom condominium within the below-market condo construction in 2007 when she was once two weeks clear of changing into homeless after shedding her condo lodging.

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Seniors on fastened earning “don’t have a sense of hope and self sufficiency,” she mentioned. “You choose from meals or a few of these different issues. It’s in reality dire in the market.”

The report compared BC with other provinces and territories based on funding for nine services for seniors, including services related to home support, eye exams, eye glasses, dental care, hearing aids, monthly income supplements, home repairs, home adaptation and affordable rental programs .

BC only provides two of those services, the worst outcome in Canada. Even those two services faced criticism from Mackenzie.

The BC Seniors Supplement, a $99-a-month payment to the lowest income seniors, is the fourth lowest in the country. Her top recommendation is that the payment be indexed to inflation.

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The province’s rental supplement, the Housing Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters, or SAFER, is failing in its goal of ensuring seniors spend only 30 per cent of their income on rent, Mackenzie said. For example, low-income senior renters paying the average rent for a one-bedroom in Vancouver will spend over 60 per cent of their income on housing. Just over 20 per cent of the province’s seniors are renters.

She urged the province to overhaul the program to better keep up with yearly rent increases.

The province through BC Housing also has a subsidized housing program for seniors but the waiting list is nearly three years long with some waiting as long as five years, Mackenzie said. She recommended that the province increase the number of subsidized housing units for seniors, especially in rural BC

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The report also found that most seniors do not have a private benefits plan and, as a result, pay out of pocket for the cost of dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, walkers, wheelchairs, and any other essential medical equipment not funded by the government.

For those who live in their homes, many are on the hook for costs that should be borne by the province, Mackenzie said, such as funding home support workers who provide daily or weekly check-ins. For example, seniors with an annual income of $28,000 will be charged $8,800 a year for a 45-minute daily home support visit.

Mackenzie acknowledged that the 10 recommendations in her report will cost more money. However, she said if seniors can’t afford to live in their own homes because of rising costs, this could push more seniors into long-term care prematurely which increases costs for the health-care system.


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Marie-Noël Campbell, executive director of Seniors First BC, a Vancouver-based seniors advocacy non-profit, agreed with Mackenzie’s assessment that the situation is worsening.

“More and more people every day are facing eviction, they’re not able to pay their bills,” Campbell said. Adding to that stress, she said, is that when seniors apply for some benefits such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit during the pandemic, other benefits are clawed back.

Poverty Reduction Minister Nicholas Simons was not available for comment but his ministry said in a statement that the NDP government doubled the senior’s supplement last year, the first increase to the supplement since it was introduced in 1987. The ministry said the eligibility for the supplement was expanded to an additional 20,000 seniors.

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