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

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Submissions sought for Boswell Beginnings and Beyond

A new edition is planned fo an an out-of-print Kootenay Lake history book

Hwy 3 to close for avalanche control on Jan. 19

The road is expected to be closed from noon to 3 p.m.

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Nelson Leafs lose to Dynamiters 4-3 in overtime

The game got off to a bizarre start early in the first period

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read