Seniors’ Income Shrinking says Advocate
Prince George, B.C.- The Province of B.C’s Seniors Advocate says we have to ” stop listening to generationally divisive inaccurate generalizations that portray seniors as rich.”
Isobel Mackenzie is concerned about the declining income of seniors. Latest information from Statistics Canada indicates that in the past three years the annual median income for senior families in BC fell 5.7% while single seniors in B.C. saw their median income drop 6.3% since 2013.
The numbers are well below the national averages which show a 1.9% increase for senior families, and a 2.3% increase for single seniors.
Meantime, the percentage of Canadians aged 65 and over living on low incomes rose to 12.5%. In particular, 30% of single, elderly women are considered low income—that’s three times the level seen 20 years ago.
There are a number of different reasons for the income decreases, but Mackenzie points to record low interest rates, seniors out living the time frame of their Registered Retirement Income Funds and the inability of private pensions to provide cost of living increases all contribute.
She also notes the BC Seniors Supplement, which is given to the lowest income seniors in this province, has stayed the same for more than 25 years.
“We also need to remember that, while most seniors do not have a mortgage, over 20% are renters and 35% do not live in one of the over-heated real estate markets,” said Mackenzie. “There are definitely seniors in the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria with a great amount of equity in their homes, but we need to find a way that will responsibly allow seniors to access their equity, while also recognizing that some areas of the province are experiencing stagnant house values.”
Mackenzie stresses that financial assistance should be based on economic need, not age alone.