Home services, rental rates top concerns: B.C. seniors’ watchdog

Premier John Horgan pledges action on rental housing in 2018

B.C.’s seniors advocate continues to be concerned about declining home support services, day programs and affordable housing.

“These results should … 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,” said Isobel Mackenzie in her annual report released Thursday.

“We know there are up to 15 per cent of seniors living in residential care who could live in the community with proper supports.”

With 32,000 more seniors in B.C. than last year, Mackenzie said she’s concerned that services needed to keep seniors living on their own aren’t keeping up with the population growth.

Seniors who rent are most at risk

Seniors can receive a rental subsidy under a program called the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters, or SAFER.

The report says the subsidy cap hasn’t changed, causing the number of people on a waiting list for a subsidized unit to go up almost 16 per cent. About 19 per cent of seniors’ households are renters, compared to owners. Those who qualify for subsidized housing wait about 2.3 years for a unit.

“The economic reality for seniors who rent is the most dire,” Mackenzie said. “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 per cent since 2005, the largest increase of any age cohort.”

In a year-end interview with Black Press, Premier John Horgan said his government will take action on rental housing in 2018.

We’ll have a comprehensive housing strategy that will involve the whole continuum of housing, not-for-profit, purpose-built rental housing, market housing,” Horgan said. “We’re not building the housing. The public has to understand it’s not about government building 100,000 homes.”

The government’s February budget is also expected to make additional moves to deter foreign speculation in the B.C. housing market.

We need to address that, and it’s not going to be as simple as waving a magic wand or snapping your fingers,” Horgan said. “It’s going to be a sensitive intervention, but we need to correct the challenge we have where people are vacating the cities rather than making them vibrant.”

For those who own homes, increasing property taxes have also been a struggle for roughly 80 per cent of B.C. seniors, causing the number of applications for a deferment to double since last year.

Access to transportation crucial

For the first time in four years, HandyDart has seen a 10 per cent increase in ride requests, with a five per cent increase in new clients.

“HandyDART can mean the difference between being a total shut-in and able to get out two or three times a week,” Mackenzie said.


@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

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

UPDATE: Fire above Sparwood no threat to community

Mayor David Wilks reported it may be due to an exposed coal seam

Conservative opposition critic tours through Kootenay riding on listening tour

Pierre Poilievre, the Tory finance critic, gathering local feedback on pandemic supports, recovery issues

EKC makes $5,000 donation to Elk Valley ultrasound campaign

The EKC challenged other businesses to help the campaign hit its $300,000 target

City of Fernie to extend pilot snow removal program

Councillors voted unanimously on Sep. 17 to extend the program due to a lack of data points and disruption due to the pandemic

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read