More than 15% of Metro Vancouver seniors live in poverty, with singles hit hardest: report

B.C. has the highest rate of poverty among seniors in Canada, according to the latest B.C. Seniors Poverty Report Card — and that number has increased for the third year in a row.

B.C. has highest rate of poverty among over-65s in Canada, report card finds

The rate of poverty for B.C. seniors has increased for the third year in a row. (Rob Elliott/AFP/Getty Images)

British Columbia has the highest rate of poverty among seniors in Canada, according to the latest B.C. Seniors Poverty Report Card — and that number has increased for the third year in a row.

The report, released on Tuesday, shows that rates of poverty for those 65 and older in Metro Vancouver — especially in Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver — are particularly high, at more than 15 per cent.

"These are cities that are reporting rates that are well above the provincial rates, in some cases more than double," said Scott Graham, associate executive director of the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C.

The findings come as the provincial government puts together a plan to fight poverty with legislative changes and a poverty reduction strategy.

"It's timely to put a bit of light on some of the challenges that too many seniors face in terms of making ends meet," Graham told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition.

The study uses financial information reported on taxes to measure low income and data from Statistics Canada in 2015.

It found that single seniors are particularly hard hit and more than three times as likely to be poor than seniors in a relationship.

"When you don't have combined income, it's more difficult to afford the rising costs of living in this part of the world," Graham said.

The numbers of homeless older adults and seniors has spiked in the past decade. (Metro Vancouver 2017 Homeless Count/B.C. Seniors Poverty Report Card)

Housing and homelessness

Housing is also a key issue in the findings.

Almost one in five B.C. seniors are living in unaffordable housing, meaning they are spending more than 30 per cent of their before-tax household incomes on accommodation costs.

In total, almost 6,000 seniors are on the B.C. Housing Housing Registry, waiting for a spot to open in non-market housing such as social housing and co-operative housing.

At the same time, there has been a spike in homelessness among seniors.

There were 123 homeless seniors and 395 people without homes between the ages of 55 and 64 in B.C. at last year's count — more than double what it had been a decade ago.

"At its core, this is a really sad topic," Graham. "A measure of a just society is the degree to which we care for those that are aged."

British Columbia has the highest rate of poverty among seniors in Canada, according to the latest B.C. Seniors Poverty Report Card, and that number has increased for the third year in a row. 6:43

With files from The Early Edition

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