B.C.'s Seniors Advocate report highlights serious concerns in seniors’ care

The report's finding are "particularly alarming considering that in Canada, seniors make up the fastest-growing age demographic.” — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President

Vancouver (16 Dec. 2016) — The Office of the Seniors Advocate has released its findings in its second annual Monitoring Seniors’ Services report. The report tracks trends in various areas, including residential care wait times, home support hours and seniors’ housing.

“We applaud the work of the Office of the Seniors Advocate in gathering this important information,” says Stephanie Smith, President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). “These statistics confirm what we’ve already been hearing from our members: that wait times for residential care are getting longer, and that the number of home support clients has increased, but the hours of service are decreasing. This is particularly alarming considering that in Canada, seniors make up the fastest-growing age demographic.”

Number of seniors increased by 28 per cent 

There are approximately 853,000 seniors living in B.C., which accounts for 18 per cent of the province’s population. Since 2006, the proportion of B.C. residents aged 65 and over has increased by 28 per cent. Now, more than ever, the provincial government needs to address the growing number of challenges facing seniors in this province.

The report notes the followingt:

  • In 2015/16, on a provincial level, the average home support hours delivered per year per client decreased by approximately 2 per cent from the previous year, while the number of clients increased by 2 per cent.
  • Average and median wait times for residential care grew longer in 3 of 5 regional health authorities. The proportion of residents admitted to residential care within the target window of 30 days decreased from 64 per cent in 2014/15 to 57 per cent in 2015/16.
  • The number of residential care beds has increased 3.5 per cent since 2012, while the number of seniors aged 85 and older has increased 21 per cent over the same time period.
  • Last year, 16 per cent of residential care facilities had no reported inspection.
  • In 2015/16, there were 168 reported incidents of financial, physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, or neglect in B.C. residential care facilities, up from 121 incidents the previous year.

Home and residential care not keeping up with need

The report also indicates that the average hours of home support per client per week decreased in 4 out of 5 health authorities. This is unacceptable as the seniors’ population increases. Home support is the most cost-efficient way of caring for seniors, that’s why the BCGEU/NUPGE is calling on the government to increase funding for home support with our Seniors Deserve Better campaign.

According to the report, the number of residential care beds has not grown in the past year, while the population of seniors has increased by over 4 per cent. In fact, the number of seniors aged 85 and older has increased almost 6 times as much as the number of residential care beds. This doesn’t make sense. Residential care needs to at least keep pace with the population growth.

Time to hold the government accountable

The findings in the report demonstrate that the B.C. Liberal government does not prioritize seniors in ther province. British Columbians need to call on the provincial government to support the aging population, instead of failing to put in the appropriate supports that will keep seniors healthier longer or keep them at home as long as possible. Seniors deserve better.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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