One of the main reasons I became an MLA was so that I could do more to help those in our province who are falling through the cracks. It’s no secret that while B.C. is a wonderful province with a high standard of living, we definitely do not have everything figured out.
There are still significant needs in every community and far too often, we do not have the necessary supports in place to protect our most vulnerable and help them thrive.
One of the issues that continues to weigh heavily on my mind are the challenges facing B.C.’s seniors. In our province they truly have fallen through the cracks, and we need to see government step up to make sure our elders are cared for.
Last fall, the Seniors Advocate released a report that found that B.C. is now the worst place in Canada to be a senior. It’s startling and deeply troubling information that demands action.
We know from the Seniors Advocate’s findings that older British Columbians have been enormously impacted by the affordability and health care crises that have plagued our province over the past few years. And yet, they are often left out of the conversations that surround these issues.
The truth is, 45 per cent of B.C. seniors have an income below minimum wage and 84 per cent of low-income seniors report running out of money for groceries some of the time. As a result, the overall use of food banks by seniors has increased by an overwhelming 78 per cent over the last five years, and nearly 60 per cent of seniors are concerned about not having enough money to pay for their usual living expenses.
This cannot continue. Our seniors deserve to age with dignity, and we must ensure they have the supports they need to live full, secure, and healthy lives — and I will continue to call on government to take action until this the reality for every senior in B.C.
Lorne Doerkson is the BC Liberal MLA for Cariboo Chilcotin.