Seniors’ poverty has grown in B.C.

Half of single B.C. seniors are living on $25K or less per year

Poverty and economic insecurity among B.C. seniors is growing, according to a study released last week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

After rapid declines over the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, seniors’ poverty rose from a low of 2.2 per cent in 1996 to 12.7 per cent in 2014 (the most recent year data is available).

“We often see stories that pit generations against one another, with seniors described as a homogenous group of well-off retirees,” said lead author Iglika Ivanova, an economist at the CCPA-B.C. “Our research shows this isn’t the case.”

“While B.C. seniors are doing okay on average, looking only at the averages misses the big picture of income and wealth inequality,” she added.

While seniors have higher average wealth than working-age families, a closer look reveals that this average is driven up by a wealthy few. The poorest 20 per cent of senior households in Canada had a median wealth of only $15,000 in 2012, while for the top 20 per cent it was over $1.6 million.

According to the study, the rise in seniors’ poverty is mainly driven by the 28 per cent of seniors who live alone.

Single women face a particularly high risk of economic insecurity in old age, with one-third of them living below the poverty line. Ivanova says the higher risk of poverty for women is driven by gender inequality in the job market, which translates into unequal pension income in old age.

“The typical senior woman in B.C. receives 21 per cent less income from the Canada Pension Plan than the typical man,” she explained. “Women are also less likely to have access to private retirement income, including employer-sponsored pensions and RRSPs, and those who do receive 45 per cent less on average than men.”

The study also found that housing affordability and low vacancy rates are a big concern for seniors who rent.

“Increasingly unaffordable rents affect more seniors than might be expected,” said Ivanova. “One in five seniors’ households in B.C. (19 per cent) rents and therefore faces the same challenges associated with low vacancy rates and an increasingly unaffordable rental market that working-age renters do.”

The CCPA report recommends a number of solutions, including a poverty reduction plan, increased public investment in home and community care, further expansion of the Canada Pension Plan and addressing the gender-wage gap to make sure today’s working-age women do not face an elevated risk of poverty when they become seniors.

Earlier this year, Burns Lake received a $10,500 age-friendly grant that will allow the village to hire a consultant to complete a seniors’ housing feasibility study. The feasibility study will then be used to attract developers and non-profit organizations that would consider constructing new housing in Burns Lake.

It is estimated that 20 per cent of residents are over 55 years of age in the Lakes District, a percentage that is expected to increase.

“Seniors’ housing is going to become more of an issue as baby boomers come into the fray,” said Val Anderson, Burns Lake’s economic development officer. “We have to make sure that housing is available.”


Just Posted

CN train derails near New Hazelton

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Burns Lake council takes action on housing issue

Council plans to invite several agencies to a meeting

Burns Lake athletes bring home gold

Cole Bender and Nicole Hamp stand out in Whistler

Burns Lake supports Nechako Watershed

Council has approved funding to help implement watershed strategies

Initiation tournament in Burns Lake

The littlest Burns Lake Bruins hosted a tournament at the Tom Forsyth… Continue reading

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

RCMP nail alleged sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Most Read