What’s in BC’s Budget for Older Canadians?

BC Budget Announcement

Victoria, BC, February 20, 2018 – In a 2017 survey of our membership, access to housing and improvements to resident safety in long-term care were identified as key issues for B.C. seniors.  The B.C. budget includes investments to address both of these items.

Per CARP’s VP of Advocacy, Wanda Morris:
“We’re delighted to see concrete budget commitments to address housing affordability and residential care safety, while remaining committed to seeking financial protections for seniors, an area not addressed in this budget.”

On behalf of B.C.’s most vulnerable seniors, CARP welcomes the increased relief for renters through the changes to the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program and the proposed investment in affordable rental housing.

Per CARP’s VP of Advocacy, Wanda Morris:
“Our members have clearly identified access to affordable housing as a key advocacy priority. We are pleased that the B.C government has addressed this issue with concrete investments to provide financial relief to renters and increase rental stock.”

CARP also welcomes the investment in healthcare of $548 million and in particular the commitment to fund an average of 3.36 daily hours of care for those living in residential care.

Per CARP’s VP of Advocacy, Wanda Morris:
CARP welcomes the additional investment in residential  care funding, a key priority for our members. We are cautiously optimistic that the government’s budget increase of $548 million  for seniors’ care will be sufficient to improve homecare for patients and alleviate the distress felt by many informal, unpaid caregivers in B.C.

CARP has long advocated for Universal Pharmacare, a key issue as our members take an average of four medications each. Of all provincial residents, our members in B.C. report facing the highest level of “significant” or “extreme” difficulty in funding their medications: 14% compared to the Canadian average of our membership of 8%.  A further 33% of our B.C. members noted some financial strain from the cost of their prescriptions compared to our national membership average of 25%.

Morris notes:
“The elimination of pharmaceutical deductibles for B.C. residents with the lowest incomes will help alleviate the strain our lowest income  members feel when purchasing (or foregoing the purchase of) their medications. We also welcome the complete elimination (in 2020) of M.S.P. fees – we’ve heard from many members that these fees are a hardship for them to pay”

The budget reintroduces full seniors’ discounts (100%) for ferry services Monday to Thursday. Per Morris: “Our members will welcome reinstatement of the full discount for ferry services. Our recent poll on discounts showed strong member support for both cost savings and their implicit message: seniors have worked hard, contributed throughout their lives, and deserve recognition in the form of seniors’ discounts”.

Other areas of concern for seniors, such as pension security and investor protection, have not featured in this budget. Morris notes:

“Governments prioritize and this budget has primarily focused on housing and childcare. CARP remains committed to working with the government to improve financial security for pensioners and increase protections for investors in this province.”