B.C. Seniors poverty rate highest in Canada, New Report





June 12, 2018

VANCOUVER, BC – Seniors’ poverty in British Columbia is the highest rate in the country, according to the B.C. Seniors’ Poverty Report Card released today by the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC), and United Way of the Lower Mainland.

The B.C. Seniors’ Poverty Report Card is the first of its kind and is based on the latest data available from Statistics Canada (2015). It consists of 13 fact sheets illustrating the scope of seniors’ poverty in British Columbia.

The report is available at www.uwlm.ca/news/bc-seniors-poverty-report-card 

Among the key findings:

    • B.C. has the highest seniors’ poverty rate in Canada
      o 8.8 per cent of seniors live in poverty, in B.C.
      o 6.6 per cent of seniors live in poverty, on average, across Canada
    • The number of seniors living in poverty has more than doubled since 2000
      o 33,780 seniors lived in poverty in 2000
      o 70,990 seniors lived in poverty in 2015
    • Single seniors are more than 3 times as likely to be poor than coupled seniors
      o 16 per cent of single seniors in B.C. live in poverty
      o 4.9 per cent of seniors in B.C. live in poverty, in coupled families

“The B.C. Seniors’ Poverty Report Card provides compelling evidence that seniors’ poverty is a growing challenge across our province,” said Scott Graham, Associate Executive Director and Manager of Research, Planning and Consulting with SPARC BC. “It provides clear evidence that specific poverty reduction strategies for seniors are necessary.”

“Older adults living in poverty are often vulnerable and isolated,” said Kahir Lalji, Provincial Director of Healthy Aging at United Way of the Lower Mainland. “Every older adult is a part of a larger community, which is why holistic, community-based supports are essential to prevent and mitigate the negative impacts of poverty in their lives, and for their families and their caregivers.”

The B.C. Seniors’ Poverty Report Card is released as a panel struck by the Government of B.C. consolidates feedback from online and in-person community consultations on poverty solutions.Representatives from SPARC BC, United Way of the Lower Mainland and their partners were active, collaborative participants in the community engagement process, which took place from the fall of 2017 to spring 2018.

Poverty reduction legislation is anticipated in fall 2018, with the province’s first poverty reduction strategy, expected to follow.In 2017-2018, 60,000 seniors found vital connections in128 United Way-supported programs. These programs combine physical and social activities to help improve vulnerable seniors’ quality of life, so they stay independent and healthy, for as long as possible.

The Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) was established in 1966 and is a leader in applied social research, social policy analysis and community development approaches to social justice. SPARC BC is a non-partisan, registered non-profit society and a federally registered charity, working to build a just and healthy society for all.

About United Way of the Lower Mainland
United Way serves the needs of our local community and ignites the desire in everyone to improve this community we call home. Our programs create life-saving connections for local kids and seniors. United Way’s Healthy Aging work supports provincial initiatives like the Better at Home and Active Aging Programs, helping older adults live independently and remain connected in their communities.

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Natalie Hill
Office: 604.268.1333 / Cell: 778.989.9159

Local contact:

Reanne Amadio, Community Investment Manager
United Way CSO
Office: 250-860-2356