B.C. seniors are struggling financially.
And according to a recent report by the Office of BC Seniors Advocate (OSA), aging lotus landers receive less financial support than their counterparts across Canada.
BC Seniors: Falling Further Behind highlights the impact of rising costs on B.C. seniors who depend on government pensions and ranks B.C. as the lowest province in providing financial support for seniors.
BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie will discuss affordability challenges and other current seniors’ issues at the Annual General Meeting of Third Age Learning at Kwantlen on Oct. 24.
“Seniors I speak with me tell me their pension incomes are not keeping up with rising costs and they are paying too much for rent, groceries, dental care, home care, house repairs and other essentials,” Mackenzie said in a release.
“Currently, 45 per cent of seniors in British Columbia are living on less than minimum wage and 25 per cent of seniors are living on less than $21,000 a year. These are the lowest incomes we find by a wide margin and it speaks to the significance of the financial hardship seniors are experiencing.”
The report also notes the minimum wage has increased 40 per cent over the past five years while pension incomes have risen only 14 per cent.
The 2019 median income for B.C. seniors was $30,750 a year compared to $51,170 for the prime working age population. Twenty-five per cent of seniors earn an annual income of less than $21,000.
Although the BC Seniors Supplement for low-income seniors doubled last year to a maximum of $99 per month, it is the fourth lowest in the country and not indexed to inflation. There is no funding for extended health benefits such as dental, eyeglasses, hearing aids or medical equipment. In the last 10 years, rents have increased by 50 per cent. Eighty-four per cent of low-income seniors report sometimes running out of money to buy food.
The report makes 10 recommendations to address these issues.
Founded in 2014, OSA is an independent office of the provincial government acting in the interest of seniors and their caregivers.
“If we do not begin the address the gaps now, things will only get worse,” Mackenzie said.
Mackenzie’s presentation takes place at TALK’s AGM on Oct. 24, 10 a.m. to noon at Kwantlen’s Richmond campus or by Zoom webinar. Her talk will be followed by coffee/tea and treats and then a very short AGM.
The meeting is free to TALK members. Registration is required by calling 604-599-3077 or online at kpu.ca/talk/courses