Seniors get serious

Boomer Talk: Help Seniors Tin Cup Bring Change

Carole Fawcett, Vernon Morning Star,
She was 71 years old and lived on Old Age Security.  She was divorced and the money she was getting from her former partner ended when he turned 65.

She tried to get GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement), but the bureaucratic process was ridiculously slow.  She lived in Vancouver and was destitute, barely able to exist on the pittance she was getting.   She committed suicide to end the angst and the pain of living in such a pinched and desperately unhappy manner.  

I’ve heard other seniors say that if they could get MAID they might consider it – due to the fact that their pension does not provide enough for them to live with dignity.

You may have heard about the Seniors Tin Cup movement.  It is a group started in Vancouver by Sharon Elliott, followed by yours truly in Vernon in December – with neither of us knowing what the other was doing.  Sharon is not on the internet and I am.  So, I ran with it.  Sharon concentrates on Provincial politicians. Together we are fierce.

My anger was building as I kept hearing stories of seniors who did not have enough to live with dignity due to the constant worry about finances.  So, Sharon and I decided to organize more demonstrations.  

A Member of Parliament makes $194,000.00 year.  A senior who is reliant on government pensions is lucky if they earn as much as the poverty line, which is $25,252.00 year.   Most of them are below this.  Buying a cup of coffee or lunch requires budgeting.  Their whole life is one big non-stop worrisome challenge when it comes to finances.

This creates anxiety, because they know if something goes wrong, they won’t be able to fix it. I know a lot of us can relate to this at the moment.

I would like to invite you to read our webpage.   Pay particular attention to the letter from Seamus O’Regan Jr.’s office.  The response came under his name but was written by Kristen Underwood, Director General, Seniors and Pensions Policy Secretariat.  Have a read of that and you’ll get an idea of the attitude.  I guess there is a reason that the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., is the Minister of Labour and uh – oh yes – Seniors.  It almost feels as though we are an afterthought. 

Money is the biggest issue for Seniors and added in are health challenges.  Not everyone can afford Physio, massage or medication in some cases.  If seniors do have some energy left and try to work a bit, it can be clawed back from their GIS, so that the following year, they will live with even less money.  

This is so disrespectful, disempowering and just plain wrong.  It is almost like punishment.  Naughty little senior, you earned too much, stay down below the poverty line.

Boomers have made change happen in the past.  We demonstrated for civil rights, we took part in anti-war demonstrations, we fought for women’s rights and took part in boycotts.   We made changes happen then and we will do it again.

So, join us on Thursday, March 21 at 10:45 am at the Schubert Centre in Vernon for a demonstration for pensions to be raised to the level of the poverty line.  Plan to carpool.  We will be protesting in seven cities and towns across BC, on the same day at the same time.  They are listed on the webpage.   Terrace, Kitimat, Prince George, Kamloops, Vernon, Vancouver, White Rock, Ladysmith.   

This isn’t just for us.  It is for all generations who will follow us too.

What we can’t do alone, we can do together. 
Join us, there is power in numbers!

Carole Fawcett is a freelance writer, retired counsellor



    It is truly wonderful seniors are mustering the energy to say no more, we deserve better, or at the very least to make a living in our seniors years!
    i am a senior as well and live up North, i am well below the poverty line. i have no benifits and rely on the governemnt programs to live. i found it appauling that i do not even qualify for welfare medical even tho for years i paid in taxes for others in the system! fair pharma care does not help you much either, and not at all if you are at the poverty line. I believe there cut off is around 20 thousand.
    For some reason, i qualified for SAFER “help” one year, but the next year the monies i recieved was included in total income, which then disqualified me to get SAFER anymore. So any help they “give” you they find a way to claw it back, so be careful!
    i have so many accounts of “help” going sideways…. even Better at Home Program that was uppose to be for seniors is a farce. they tell me they dont do things like lawn help and that i make too much so id have to pay some out of pocket as well…say what??? i am departely trying to manage to stay on my own, but it looks like without more “help” i will become an even great burden to the governemnt and programs.

  • RoseMarie

    In the news, stories about Mincome seniors becoming homeless, and every now and again the BC Seniors’ Advocate kvetches yet again, about the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters inadequacy, what with a Rent Ceiling of $803 dating back to 2018, when it was raised $38 from $765. She’s been doing this since her first report, Seniors’ Housing in BC, 2015.
    In 2016, Craig Crawford, then Vice President of Operations, BC Housing, presented that 34% of SAFER recipients were at/below the rent ceiling of $765 – 66% above. This means the percentages had flipped, severely, and that the programs ends were not being met.
    Subsequent BC Housing data shows, obtained under Freedom of Information, that this percentage is now averaging 74% above the $803 Rent Ceiling, and averaging by $325, for low end rents at $1,128. If you remove the 26% who live in situations where they pay $803 and below, then the above figures look more severe. With expired operating agreements in nonprofits, where seniors pay strictly 30%, this can change the numbers substantially.
    I collect government data, and feed it back to MLA’s, hoping it might spark interest, or maybe ‘shame’ them into moving on this.
    Feb 29, Housing Minister, Hon Kahlon spoke that when the NDP came into government, 2018, SAFER was increased by 48%. I sent him back the track record, asking him where he got his data, because the paper trail reads substantially different. NDP increased SAFER from $765 to $803, $38 and 5%.
    BC Housing commenced a review in December 2019, under an RFP, and it was completed in Jan 2022, and they are still reviewing recommendations.
    All along, recommendations from reports on SAFER was to index it, to the rent increases. An excel exercise shows that had they done this form 2006 onwards, SAFER would be $1,219. We might not have witnessed, or experienced homelessness.
    While government likes to espouse that seniors receiving Mincome pay only 30% of their income on rent, there is another side of the equation that seems to have conveniently lopped off. Multiplying income by 30% is the standard, promoted. If you divide the rent ceiling $803, then the income you need to pay rent at $803 is $2,677 or $32,124 per year. The current income threshold is $2,550, and $30,600 per year, the old SAFER rent ceiling of $765.
    Mincome is currently = *$1,878.11. and $22,537.
    A senior paying $1,200 for rent needs $4,000. This works also as a fast, efficient, screening tool for landlords.
    SO the government is not just playing with numbers, they are playing with seniors lives.
    Back in 1989 there is a research report out of UBC, one of many from the eighties, showing how this program policy is – generating homelessness.
    This is what government knows, data from the SAFER program.
    This is where we are fifty years after SAFER was initiated.
    There’s my kvetching.

  • Susan Lewis

    Hi, I live in smithers, I am below the poverty line. I an 76 , lost my husband a year and a half ago. My daughter paid for cremation for me, my one daughter owns half of this duplex I live in. I got work expediting last year for a couple of months, with a small a small out fit. Wondering how that will affect my taxes, will find out soon I guess. Lots of people like me out there I’m sure. Would like to keep in touch to see what is happening for sure. Thank you.

  • Deirdre Keohane

    Hi there, I just heard about this movement. I’m still working FT and am 64…, dreading the future. I’d like to help by spreading the movement on FB, instagram, and Tik Tok! Have you set up pages? Perhaps I can help there. Let me know.

  • Joseph Dore

    Very interested to learn more of this group and would appreciate notifaction for activities in Prince George area . April 01 would be a very good day to have protest as this is day our elcted offical get a very substansual increase in salary as long as they have a heart beat ,there worth on the job is inmaterial , would be nice to have a protest on the steps of goernment buildings in Ottawa on April 01

  • Carole Fawcett

    Hi Joseph. Would you like to help Ken in Prince George organize for the next rally? It will be held on June 27th. If you would like to contact Ken, let me know at and I will send you his contact information. They did have a demonstration on March 21st.

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