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 than 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 seniors in 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 a 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.

Just Posted

Victoria woman to cycle Portugal as winner of BC Bike to Work Week

Malene Foyd logged 49km cycling to work with the Ministry of Environment; “I always bike to work, rain or shine.”

Victoria man in custody after downtown stabbing

Officers arrested suspect without incident, hours after afternoon stabbing

Ride Don’t Hide hits the road around Greater Victoria

More than 400 riders ride 7 to 100 km to raise awareness and funds for mental health programs

Carnarvon’s Tier 1 U10 ball teams host district tournament finals today

Finals this afternoon at Fireman’s Park in Oak Bay

New kitchen for Mustard Seed built by volunteers

Members of HeroWork spent nearly a month building a new processing kitchen in Esquimalt

Painted pianos pop up for public play Friday in Oak Bay

Pianos can be played during the day and will be covered overnight

Late Bellingham homer sinks HarbourCats at home

Visiting Bells take two of three West Coast League games in Victoria, Cats off to Walla Walla

POLL: Do you have a family doctor?

“I don’t have a family doctor,” is an all too familiar phrase… Continue reading

5 fun things to do this weekend in Greater Victoria

Victoria Ska and Reggae Fest, Ride Don’t Hide, Cordova Bay Day and more

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

Amalgamation fails in North Cowichan and Duncan

North Cowichan says yes, but Duncan says no

Most Read