Editorial: Leaving seniors behind

Pension plan not keeping pace with inflation and other increases, like higher cost of electricity and ferries

Most seniors live on a fixed income.

According to Employment and Social Development Canada, the median  retirement income for women and men aged 65 and older in 2011 was $20,200 and $30,100, respectively.

At least 90 per cent of seniors rely on Canadian Pension Plan payments and Old Age Security payments.

These payments are adjusted annually according to the Consumer Price Index.

This seems fair, if the price of goods goes up, so does the amount received from CPP and OAS.

Many private pension funds do the same thing.

Since 2002, with the exception of 2011, the CPI in Canada has hovered around 2 per cent or lower.  In 2011 the CPI averaged 2.9 per cent, whereas in 2009 the CPI averaged 0.3 per cent.

In their wisdom, the B.C. Liberal government, in an attempt to balance the budget, decided not only to cut ferry service and increase fares by 4 per cent, they also decided to get rid of free travel for seniors. For example, seniors must now pay $8.15 for one-way travel, Monday to Thursday, between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay.  Previously, seniors could hop the ferries on foot free of charge from Monday to Thursday.

To add injury to injury, BC Hydro is raising its rates 9 per cent this year, and is forecasting an increase of 28 per cent over the next five years.

These increases are far beyond the CPI, such that with every increase, never mind in the price of food, the price of insurance, of everything, seniors on a fixed income are losing ground.

On the bright side, more seniors will be staying home on Vancouver Island, going to the legislature to stay warm to cut heating costs, which means more people in the public gallery keeping an eye on the provincial government.


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