79 Lodden Rd.,
Fruitvale, BC V0G 1L1
Minister of Health
PO Box 9050, Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
July 29, 2021
Dear Minister Dix;
I have a concern regarding the cost of Home Support for Seniors.
Many years ago, my mother received Home Support. She had vision issues and was unable to prep meals and needed other assistance to stay in her home. The projected cost was $900/month which you must agree is a pretty high cost for someone with an income of about $25,000/year. Fortunately, her case manager noticed that she had reported Earned Income on her income tax. This meant the cost was capped at $300/month. Quite a difference.
Following up on this, I discovered that anyone receiving a pension that included a medical plan had those benefit dollars reported in the Earned Income line. This resulted in a cap which reduced the cost of Home Support by 2/3rds. A huge reduction which kept Home Support costs much more affordable ($300 compared to $900).
When the NDP provincial government decided to provide Medical Plans for all BC residents (which we all believed was a good thing) corporations and municipalities providing this benefit along with pensions, were no longer required to pay it. Since it began mid 2019, people still had 6 months of costs accumulated, so the taxes for 2020 maintained the Earned Income and accordingly, the cap on Home Support remained. However, this benefit is now gone and as Home Support reviews the 2020 returns, seniors are facing an increase of 2/3rds cost for Home Support Services. Also, any seniors beginning to use these services in 2021 will not receive the cap.
The Seniors Advocate’s Office did confirm this loss, but felt it would not have much impact as they thought it did not affect many seniors. I submitted a Freedom of Information request to Interior Health as this was the only way to attain numbers of those affected.
In 2020, 427 seniors living in the Interior Health area received this cap. I believe this number of people is large enough to generate a very serious concern. It is a huge increase in cost to many who we know are on low, fixed incomes and could result in a drop of financial capability to remain in their homes. We all know there is a shortage of residential care spaces!
I would also like to point out that as BC has a very strong Union presence, both in the private and government sectors, there are many people who had medical plans in place as a result of astute and determined bargaining. I am expecting that most BC Health Authorities will have a large percentage of Home Support clients receiving this cap.
Minister Dix, I am hoping that since you have stated you would like to increase Home Support for Seniors, that there is a plan in place to keep it within financial reach. I look forward to your response and to hear a plan of action to address this issue. (email: firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-367-9791)
Director, Society for the Protection and Care of Seniors, Trail, B.C.
cc: Minister Katrine Conroy