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Senior citizens in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador are finding it hard to get by with the recent cuts made in senior citizen discounts and subsidies. The city’s councillor Tom Hann, who is also a senior citizen put together a proposal to lower the elders’ age limit from 65 to 55 and also proposed several discounts for recreational activities such as passes to pools and bus rides.
However, his proposal was dismissed without any debate. The reason the staff report gave for the dismissal was that cities of Edmonton, Moncton and Vancouver are offering discounts to seniors 64 years of age. The council said that it would continue with the same age limit in the future.
There’s evidence that suggests seniors in Canada are being slowly stripped off their entitlements that were once considered sacrosanct.
In 2014, a service that offered free ferry rides, which linked to the islands separate from the West Coast eliminated its discount. In recent years, services for senior citizens by TD Bank were also scaled back, along with cuts to airlines discounts.
In 2015, after a report on “Public Policy”, it was concluded that municipal governments must stop offering discounts for seniors. According to the report’s author Harry Kitchen, who is also an economist, “By providing special deals to people just because of their age, we end up subsidizing some fairly wealthy people”.
According to Statistics Canada, in the 1970s, 30% of elders were considered poor. By 2007, this rate fell by 28.4%, reaching 5.2%, which prompted the suggestion that senior citizens of this era are doing quite well.
Senior citizens are the lowest paid workers all over the world. Though Canada has made drastic changes in reducing poverty amongst senior citizens but the discounts are now being stolen by a population having longer life expectancies.
In 2016, a study by Broadbent Institute showed that the low income rate had increased to 11.1% in 2013 from 3.9% of 1995. In single women seniors, this rate had risen to 28%.
Another reason behind this rise in poverty rate is early retirement, which many senior citizens are forced into. The new federal budget promises a huge increase in senior benefits. However, in light of the recent cuts, the future does not look so green for Canadian senior citizens.