“This must be sock it to poor seniors month,” Art Kube, president of the 100,000 member B.C. Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations said recently.
“First the government slashed the seniors discount on B.C. Ferries by 50 per cent. Now it is imposing a cumulative increase of 28.1 per cent on BC Hydro rates,” said Kube.
“And all of this comes in the same month when seniors are preparing for a 4.1 per cent increase in MSP premiums, and health authorities are sending out notices of increases in the cost of residential care.
“Access to needed community health services, like home support, continues to decline even though such services could save the public acute care system millions of dollars.”
Kube said not all seniors are poor, but many do live on fixed incomes.
“The rate of poverty among seniors, and particularly among women, is increasing at an alarming rate. The government’s actions are making it even worse,” he said.
He noted the super-rich will barely notice these fee and rate increases, but while the government proclaims a budget surplus, poor seniors will have to decide which meals they can no longer afford.
“The government should be raising revenues through fair taxes, based on ability to pay, not through fee and rate increases that hit hardest at those who already have the least,” he said.
Noting the government is planning to put slot machines on the B.C. Ferries, Kube advised seniors to stay away from them.
“The way the government is running things, you can’t win,” he said.
The Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations (COSCO) is a federation that represents more than 80 seniors groups with a total of more than 100,000 members in B.C.