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BC Federation of Retired Union

BC FORUM News - from The Advocate, January, 2014

New report recommends action to improve
the lives of older women

The Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL), in partnership with the West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), is undertaking a three year project to identify barriers to the well-being of older women.

After a year of consultation with older women in the B.C. Lower Mainland, CCEL has issued a comprehensive report that lists 31 pressing issues faced by older women, and makes 24 recommendations for change.

The Older Women’s Dialogue Project is described as the first to look at these issues from both a gender and aging perspective.

The report groups the most pressing issues into six general categories where women, to a greater extent than men, experience barriers to well-being:

  • Income security, pensions and poverty. Older women are struggling to survive on limited fixed incomes.
  • Housing insecurity and homelessness. Many women live in unsafe, inappropriate housing, and spend more of their income on rent.
  • Challenges caring for loved ones and for themselves. Incomes are low partly because caregiving limits the work history of older women.
  • Family dynamics and vulnerability linked to immigration, which has a significant, lasting impact on women’s lives.
  • Safety and freedom from abuse. It can be especially difficult for older women to leave an abusive situation.
  • Access to justice and information. Many cannot get legal aid when they need it, and have difficulty accessing plain language information on their rights.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations to address these barriers to the well-being of older women. These include:

  • A national strategy to address poverty among older women, including an increase in income assistance and Old Age Security (OAS), and scrapping plans to raise the OAS eligibility age to 67.
  • Increase financial support to grandparents raising grandchildren.
  • Improve access to health care, medication and dental care.
  • Develop an affordable housing strategy for older women.
  • Implement a provincial or national child care strategy to address the pressures on older women to provide unpaid child care.
  • Address the abuse and bullying of older women, and support women who leave abusive relationships.
  • Improve access to legal assistance and advice, and address age discrimination in the workplace.

Funding for the first year of this community engaged research project was provided by the United Way, Lower Mainland.

You can find the full report on the web at the B.C. Law Institute website, under the CCEL “active projects” menu item


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