B.C. seniors’ poverty rate highest in Canada: report

Study paints picture of low-income seniors in B.C. ahead of anticipated NDP legislation this fall

B.C. has the highest rate of seniors in poverty compared to the rest of Canada, according to a provincial report card intending to offer the full scope of what life is like for thousands of struggling seniors.

The Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. and Lower Mainland United Way released the first-of-its-kind report card on Tuesday. It was compiled by a 27-person panel and includes feedback from online and in-person community consultations.

“Seniors’ poverty is a growing challenge across our province,” said Scott Graham, associate executive director and manager of research, planning and consulting with SPARC BC. “It provides clear evidence that specific poverty-reduction strategies for seniors are necessary.”

Nearly nine per cent of people in B.C. aged 65 and older are living in poverty, the report said, compared to the national average of just under seven per cent.

Seniors facing the most dire conditions are single and live on their own, and are three times more likely to be poor than senior couples or those living with family.

About 6,000 seniors are currently on BC Housing’s registry, as the number of homeless seniors has tripled.

The report relies on Statistics Canada’s low-income measure, which calculates median household income divided by the number of members living in the home. As of 2015, Statistics Canada determined $56,000 in yearly income was the median salary for a senior in Canada. The poverty threshold is based on a person spending 30 per cent of their income on basic necessities such as food and shelter.

READ MORE: Delays slow B.C.’s promised plan to reduce poverty, minister said

According to this calculation, of the 123 communities in B.C. where fewer than 500 seniors live, only three of those areas had fewer than 20 poor seniors.

The regions hit hardest by poverty correlate with a lack of housing affordability, particularly in Metro Vancouver.

According to 2015 statistics, Richmond, Surrey and Burnaby had the highest rates of seniors’ poverty in B.C., with 20.3 per cent, 16.5 per cent and 16.1 per cent, respectively.

Shane Simpson, minister of social development and poverty reduction, discusses what he hopes B.C.’s poverty reduction strategy will look like when it comes out near the end of March. (Black Press Media files)

Other areas where many seniors are facing high levels of poverty include Bella Coola and the surrounding area, known as the Central Coast Regional District, where the entire region has a seniors’ poverty rate of nearly 15 per cent.

Based on Statistics Canada projections, more than one million seniors are expected to be living in B.C. by 2021, the report says.

The report has been released ahead of poverty reduction legislation that’s anticipated in fall 2018, SPARC BC said, with the province’s first strategy to follow.

The strategy is expected to be informed by Social Development Minister Shane Simpson’s recent tour across B.C. where he hosted poverty reduction community meetings in cities such as Nanaimo, Smithers and Nelson.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Petition to protect Mt. Begbie goes to the province

Petition calls for no development on the mountain until new land use plans created for Revelstoke

Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services douses house fire Aug. 7

Investigators say probable cause was an unattended barbecue

UFO trackers set their sights on Revelstoke skies

Rob Freeman UFO World Explorer and crew went up Sale Mountain

Updated: Molotov cocktails thrown at Revelstoke home in arson attempt

The flames were extinguished before they spread. Two men have been arrested.

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Perseid meteor shower at peak on Aug. 11 and 12

Find place away from city lights for optimal viewing

Brain safety top of mind for North Okanagan kids

Bylaw officers noticing a number of youth out riding bikes, scooters, skateboards without helmets

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

UPDATE: House fire spreads to nearby bush in North Okanagan

Small blaze burning near Vernon in Six Mile area

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Summerland begins reopening aquatic centre

First phase of reopening planned for Sept. 8

Doctor slain in Alberta medical clinic was devoted father, husband

Red Deer doctors on edge after attack on colleague who had two young daughters

Most Read