BC FORUM News – From The Advocate, Spring 2018
Seniors Advocate highlights concerns
The third annual report on seniors’ services reveals “some very meaningful trends that can tell us whether we are heading in the right direction in delivering the supports and services that are key to assisting seniors to maintain independence and enjoy good health,” says B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.
The report shows the number of seniors in the province grew by 32,307 to a total of 882,731 or 18.4 percent of the population in 2017, compared to 17.9 percent in 2016.
“The results for 2017 highlight several areas of concern for me,” said Mackenzie.
“There is a continued decrease in home support service and adult day programs as well as an increasing lack of affordability for senior renters,” she said.
“These results should also be of concern to the government as lack of support in these areas will drive some seniors into residential care which is a more costly intervention and one that is least preferred by seniors. We know there are up to 15 percent of seniors living in residential care who could live in the community with proper supports.”
With 19 percent of senior households renting, the affordability gap continues to widen.
“The economic reality for seniors who rent is the most dire,” said Mackenzie.
“We know that seniors have the lowest median income of any age cohort over 25 and we know that the poverty rate for seniors increased by 24% since 2005, the largest increase of any age cohort. The ability of seniors, particularly those aged 80 and greater to move to less expensive neighbourhoods is very limited.
Seniors must be located near transit and services given they will depend on these more and more as they age.”
For the 81 percent of seniors who own their home, the number of new individuals claiming property tax deferment nearly doubled in 2017.
“The popularity of the Property Tax Deferment Program demonstrates its value in helping those seniors who are homeowners to address the rising costs of maintaining a home,” Mackenzie said.