BC seniors rally for higher pensions amid crises

Seniors in BC demand increases to pensions and better support for living costs

BC seniors rally for higher pensions amid crises

Across British Columbia, seniors rallied to demand higher pensions amid an escalating affordability crisis, as reported by CBC News. 

The advocacy group Seniors Tin Cup organized marches in seven cities, including Vernon, Kamloops, Vancouver, Surrey, and White Rock, highlighting the struggle of many seniors living below the poverty line on insufficient pensions.  

Participants, numbering over a hundred in Vernon alone, voiced their inability to subsist on the current pension amounts, with one senior, Lorraine Beaudoin, emphasizing the impossibility of living on $1,200 a month.   

The group's primary demands to the provincial government include indexing the BC senior's supplement to inflation and increasing funding for essential services like health benefits, housing, and transit for seniors.  

They also urged collaboration between provincial and federal governments to enhance pension amounts, aiming to at least reach the poverty level. Organizer Sue Reid pointed out the dire situation of seniors having to choose between basic necessities such as housing, food, and medication.   

Statistics underline the growing issue, with more than one in six BC seniors in 2021 living on after-tax incomes that are 50 percent or less than the median adjusted after-tax income of private households, marking a significant shift from three decades ago.  

The United Way BC report contrasts the current 15.2 percent of seniors living in low-income conditions with only 2.2 percent in 1996, highlighting the worsening economic situation for the elderly. The report also notes that in 2020, one in four BC seniors had an after-tax income below $21,800. 

In response to the crisis, the province acknowledged the challenges inflation poses to seniors on fixed incomes and mentioned efforts to revise the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program to provide better rental supplements.  

However, advocates like Reid emphasize the need for more comprehensive actions to ensure seniors can live their final years with respect and dignity, pointing to a societal tendency to overlook the needs of older adults.