What’s in the plan for BC seniors?

VANCOUVER, September 8, 2017 – In the Throne speech, the NDP has taken the opportunity to highlight proposed investments for children and youth. Funding for childcare, classrooms, and post-secondary education will be welcomed by younger Canadians and their families, but what about measures to support the many seniors who call BC home?

While BC’s 40,000 CARP members will welcome investments in new hospitals and urgent care centres as well as the opportunity to have a family doctor, they will be rightly concerned by the new government’s silence on their other issues of concern.

A recent report from BC’s Seniors Advocate noted the high and growing stress on informal, unpaid caregivers. Many BC residents are struggling to look after elderly parents and spouses as they age. No mention was made of any measures to help these individuals whose unpaid caregiver hours are doing much to take the pressure off our healthcare system.

The throne speech also missed an opportunity to address the financial security of our seniors. While those who are struggling with housing costs will welcome a commitment to more affordable housing, there are other significant financial issues facing BC Seniors.

BC is in danger of becoming a laggard when it comes to investor protection. With individuals living longer and defined benefit pension plans disappearing, there is an increased onus on individuals to look after their own financial needs in retirement. But the throne speech was silent on any reforms to protect small investors. Countries like the U.K. and Australia, and the EU (as of 2018) require their financial advisors to adhere to a best interest standard towards clients, but BC remains silent on this critical reform.

It’s not just investors, but pensioners too whose plight was not addressed by the government. The cavalier attitude of Sears to its pensioners has highlighted the vulnerability of those who have worked for decades for corporations, only to see their future pension payments put at risk when those companies run into financial troubles. Thousands of British Columbians are at risk, but the throne speech was silent on their peril.

CARP is Canada’s largest national advocacy group for older Canadians. Formerly the Canadian Association for Retired Persons, today CARP has over 300,000 members; including 40,000 who reside in British Columbia. In 2017, CARP opened its first west coast office in Surrey, BC.
CARP’s mission is to advocate for better healthcare, financial security, and freedom from ageism for Canadians as they age. Its members engage in polls and petitions, email their elected representatives on issues that matter to them, and connect with local chapters on urgent issues.