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Adjusted residential care rates benefit low-income seniors

Dec 12 2011

About 7,000 of the poorest B.C. seniors will receive an additional $600 a year now that the provincial government has increased the minimum amount of disposable income allowed in a single month.

Seniors in residential care can now have $325 in disposable income, up from $275, the B.C. Ministry of Health said in a release Sunday. The increase will allow recipients to keep the new federal guaranteed income supplement, which was bumped up in a July announcement by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

The federal government said it would offer $600 more a year for single seniors with an income of less than $2,000 a year, and $840 for couples with an annual income of less than $4,000.

The top-up gradually decreases and is phased out completely for seniors earning $4,400 a year or more and couples earning at least $7,360.

The increase was criticized in July by seniors’ advocacy groups, who said the $50-a-month hike was not nearly enough to bring people out from under the poverty line.

The provincial government had to change its regulations in order for the federal money to have any impact.

“We wanted to ensure those low-income seniors who qualify for the federal income supplement top-up did not lose this extra income,” Health Minister Michael de Jong said.