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

First fall storm expected to hit Greater Victoria tonight

Heavy rainfall, winds expected over the next several days

HMCS Victoria popping up as training sessions underway

MARPAC says plume of smoke normal for recharging submarine

B.C. ELECTION: MLA Adam Olsen says NDP is sacrificing health for politics

Olsen acknowledges situation of a snap election is not ideal for BC Greens,

Oak Bay chief puts an end to dad jokes on police Twitter

No more jokes on Oak Bay Police Twitter account

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Cowichan Valley family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

Islands Trust Conservancy gets funding for protection of at-risk species

Conservancy manages habitat for more than 25 plant and animal species at risk

First full day of B.C.’s election campaign begins amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and the Green party’s Sonia Furstenau criticized John Horgan’s decision

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP issue two $2,300 COVID fines at same Metro Vancouver vacation rental within 24 hours

Cpl. Mike Kalanj said it was ‘quite frankly appalling’ to see parties breaking COVID-19 rules

Here’s how voting amid a pandemic will happen in B.C.

Elections BC has worked with the provincial health office to determine safety protocols for voting

B.C. privacy commissioner will hear First Nations complaints about COVID

The hearing will rely on written submissions from the Indigenous governments as well as the Ministry of Health

Most Read