Seniors’ advocate calls for housing reforms

There is room in assisted living but rules and low-income supports need improvement, Isobel Mackenzie says

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie

Too many seniors are going into residential care when they could still be accommodated in assisted living, due to rules that are “outdated and too restrictive,” B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie says in a new report.

The report found a 10-per-cent vacancy rate for assisted living facilities, meaning space is usually available, at least in urban areas. It calls for a “fundamental redesign” of regulations for registered assisted living, to change spousal eligibility and reduce the number of higher functioning seniors moving to residential care.

More than 90 per cent of B.C. seniors live independently and 80 per cent are homeowners, who should be able to apply for a provincial loan against equity to pay for repairs, the report recommends.

“A new roof or the need to fix a dilapidated deck may be a cost that forces a senior out of a house they have loved for decades,” Mackenzie said. “Living in a house that is worth $500,000 or even a million dollars does not mean much if you’re living alone on $24,000 or less, which is the median income of seniors in B.C., and you can’t find the cash to pay the bills.”

Health Minister Terry Lake said he supports the direction of Mackenzie’s 18 recommendations, and the ministry is working on assisted living changes. Some recommendations, such as providing private rooms with ensuite bath for residential care beds, have “wide-reaching implications for health authorities” and require more study, Lake said.

Subsidized assisted living is based on 70 per cent of the resident’s net income, with a minimum of $325 left to the resident. Mackenzie recommends that minimum should increase to $500 to allow more low-income seniors to use assisted living rather than going directly to residential care, where more costs are covered by the province.

A survey of B.C. seniors finds 20 per cent are renters, with one in five of those receiving a rental subsidy. Average rents range from a high of $1,038 in Vancouver to $547 in Quesnel, and the report finds that for remote and rural communities, the biggest challenge is not cost but the availability of suitable housing.

 

Just Posted

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Op-Ed: Modernizing forestry and prioritizing reconciliation

Doug Routley writes on Fairy Creek and Central Walbran Valley old growth deferrals

The log retaining wall that supports the access road to the Ladysmith Community Marina is failing and needs to be replaced. (Cole Schisler photo)
Remediation work for community marina access road expected to be costly

A log retaining wall between the access road and the parking area is failing and must be replaced

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby attend opening of the first government-run B.C. Cannabis Store, Kamloops, Oct. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)
B.C. government to allow home cannabis delivery starting July 15

Added convenience expected to persuade buyers to ‘go legal’

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read