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.

Just Posted

Youth lead Ucluelet Cemetery nameplate project

Students navigate maps and scour local archives over three years to honour deceased.

Tofino awards $2.4M contract to connect path to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

The district announced the project will be paid entirely with grants.

Semi-truck crashes on Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Drivers heading in or out of Tofino-Ucluelet Friday afternoon should expect delays

Divers encounter giant, weird-looking fish in Barkley Sound

Rendezvous Dive Adventures charter sees six-foot creature normally found in tropical water

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Most Read