June 2024 Seniors, Housing and Safety Report

By Sheila Pepper, Seniors, Housing and Safety Convenor

The WNHH Network is a national women’s homelessness group working for all women to improve their local housing and services situations. In BC, several new housing starts for vulnerable women, families and seniors have been reported, in some northern and rural areas, but more is needed in the Lower Mainland. Some residents of this area are opposing more immigration due to the greater pressure on housing and shelters for homeless people.

The Happy Cities group, in Our Urban Village, a group of strangers together in a shared home, with common areas for gathering and cooking, and with private rooms, is a recent example of co-housing in Vancouver. CMHC’s Housing Accelerator Fund is helping to support several rapid affordable housing development.

There is a report on discrimination against gender diverse people for housing from landlords, building managers, and shelter staff; thus addressing housing rights for 2SLGBTQQIA is important.

The National Conference on Ending Homelessness is in Ottawa in October 2024, and is calling for presentations on all aspects mentioned, and experiences from all, especially from Indigenous people. (CAEH24). There is a June 11-12th hybrid event, exploring solutions and support systems, at #HousingMatters. Safety for all these groups above mentioned, and for all women, their families and seniors continue to be of great concern, as so many innovative ways to target these vulnerable groups are circulating on the internet. Many organizations are alerting seniors to these scams, but we must particularly help all seniors who live alone. Many non-profit organizations and religious groups are helping vulnerable people personally, as they arrive in our communities, to find the services they need, as soon as possible.

Seniors, as we know, are a growing cohort, and will continue to be so in the next decades. Many more services are targeting seniors for their continued independence and comfort. My latest is a Drivers’ Refresher course, as I approach my 82nd birthday, and another driver’s test of my abilities and safety as a driver, carer and driver of my husband, and for all my organizational meetings and events.


March 2024 Seniors, Housing and Safety Report

By Sheila Pepper, Seniors, Housing and Safety Convenor

Housing: I attended the Intersectional Housing Agenda Organization meeting on February 13th, also attended by Beryl Matthewson and many others. The Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network, the Indigenous Women’s Housing Network, the Pan Canadian Voice for Women’s Housing, and the National Right to Housing Network were all represented.

The discussion repeated the urgent need for more affordable, accessible, available and non- discriminatory housing for women. The ‘Financialization of Housing’ was another aspect discussed. The YM/WCAs across Canada address Social Housing and contribute many of their buildings to it.

We recalled the innovative housing models, such as NORC’s, Oasis, PAL, co-op and co-housing, and new ones, such as tiny and converted containers for homes. Khulud Baig said ”There’s a gendered crisis” in housing, “and all stakeholders should be ‘at the table’ where policy is made”.

There are 15 Calls to Action regarding immediate, medium term (2 to 5 years) and longer term (5 to 7 years) needs for this type of housing. Many organizations and individuals have written  to various levels of government over the last years to address these housing needs, and 1,200 did recently, they reported!

“Ninety national organizations, networks, grassroots and community groups, advocates and individuals” have endorsed these Calls to Action. I reconnected with the local ‘127 Housing Society’ recently. They have three apartment buildings in Vancouver, housing 355 mainly low income seniors, including a community worker in each building.

Seniors and Safety: Since my last report, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) aspects of communication for all seniors’ issues have been discussed in the media and at meetings.
So much electronic communication is changing so rapidly, it’s difficult for seniors to learn how to protect themselves from scams, false news and reports, and claims of many organizations and companies they may need to access. We need younger ‘navigators’ in this field, to help protect us from many types of confusing intrusions into our lives. Contact your MP, MLA and Councillors to help protect BC seniors from the new, ever innovating dangers to our mental and physical health.



February 2024 Seniors, Housing and Safety Report

By Sheila Pepper, Seniors, Housing and Safety Convenor

Our BC government is promising many more social housing builds of various forms in most parts of this province, but many are slow to be approved and funded, as so many other financial pressures are put on the province’s funds every month. Research shows that these promises are for future years, when so many need housing now, particularly our chronically homeless, new refugees, immigrants who have been waiting for weeks or months, as have asylum-seekers, all urgently needing accommodation. Others who must change residences are finding huge increases in costs of housing in all sizes of homes, due to the current lack of supply.

We heard from the CBC and at last month’s meeting, from Alison Silgardo, of the Seniors’ Services Society of BC, that there has been an increase of seniors over 60 who are homeless, and thus are less able to stay well and be safe in winter in particular. Many seniors are finding they must move to smaller homes for mobility and financial reasons, and they are finding many challenges in doing so. Hopefully, some other solutions can accommodate them, such as: house

sharing, co-operative combinations, laneway approvals for small homes. Many seniors are feeling more vulnerable to infections, and hospitals and most health care clinics are struggling to

help those who need their services. As we have experienced colder and severe weather conditions all over BC this January, many communities are struggling to keep roads, paths and highways clear of snow and flooding, and providing more warming shelters overnight, in churches and other community buildings.

Safety is always a concern for us all. It seems there are more ways to entice money from particularly vulnerable people. We see so many more ads recently for gaming and gambling, and more pressure put on everyone to join. Years ago, in Ottawa, we put pressure on our governments to stop gaming companies from putting gambling opportunities in retirement homes, resulting in peer pressure to increase participation. Gaming companies offered incentives to the owners, and many of these companies tried to increase gambling in many places, both online and at local stores. We must be more vigilant and learn all the new ways predators are trying to prey on vulnerable people.



November 2023 Seniors, Housing and Safety Report

By Sheila Pepper, Seniors, Housing and Safety Convenor

My three issues, seniors, safety, and housing, are continually in the national, provincial, territorial and local news almost every week.

Housing, of course, is an urgent problem for most people these days, whether they own their own homes and are struggling to pay higher taxes, repair and modify as they age, or make major renovations.

Others who rent are paying more each year, or ‘extra’ fees for services which were included previously, and many with necessary repairs and upgrades to appliances and infrastructure are not completed in a timely way.

Landlords are squeezed in several ways too, with higher costs of materials, but ‘renovictions’ are on the rise.

Those who are homeless and must live in shelters or other temporary accommodation experience many other difficulties, such as crowded facilities, mandatory enter and leave times, and safety of their possessions and pets (if they are allowed). Many immigrants and refugees experience additional threats.

Safety is often a problem as people move on streets, in the evenings, on public transportation and when travelling distances. Seniors have experienced all these problems and more and are less able to recover.




March 2023 Seniors Report

By Donna Webb, Seniors Convenor

On January 23, 2023 I attended a presentation entitled “Finally, Some Good News About Stress! The Benefits of (Some) Daily Challenge”.

The speaker was Dr. David Almeida, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and a faculty member of the Center for Healthy Aging at Penn State University. Dr. Almeida earned his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Victoria. His research examines the effects of biological and self-reported indicators of stress on health. His primary interest has been the role of daily stress on healthy aging but has also examined stress processes in specific populations and contexts, such as the workplace and family interactions, parents of children with developmental disabilities, and family caregivers.

Research documents the harmful effects of daily stressors on well-being, but often ignored in these studies are people reporting no stressors. This talk examined the benefits and costs of a “stressor-free life”, with a focus on the potential benefits of small amounts of daily stress. He used data from the National Studies of Daily Experiences (NSDE) to calculate the prevalence of adults who reported no daily stressors over the course of 8 consecutive days.  Data were comprised of 20,188 daily interviews from 2,804 adults ages 25-85.  Results indicated that 10% of adults reported no stressors over the 8 days. Stressor-free adults were less likely to report positive events in their daily lives.

Previous assumptions about stress were refuted with twenty years of funded research, for example: stress is universal, stress is unhealthy, stress should be avoided, resilience to stress is exogenous to the stress process. Instead, the study found that having a purpose in life reduces reactivity to daily stress and exercise reduces reactivity to daily stress. Almost 10% of the study participants reported no stressors. These individuals reported fewer positive life events, fewer social support exchanges, and the found these participants scored lower in present and future cognitive functioning.

The Healthy Aging Public Lecture Series is sponsored by the Edwin S.H. Leong Healthy Aging Program and the UBC School of Kinesiology and supported by the Providence Health Care Dialogue on Aging Public Presentation Series.


December 2022 Seniors Report

By Donna Webb, Seniors Convenor

Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Directory Update

The Office of the Seniors Advocate has released an updated long-term care home directory which now also includes information on all publicly funded assisted living facilities in British Columbia. This online searchable directory is an excellent resource for people looking for current information on care homes.

Learn More

Connecting with Seniors in Rural Communities

The Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie continued engaging with seniors in rural communities throughout the province in October. Notably, she spoke at the Valemount Seniors Fair, a town hall in Squamish, and met with seniors on both Denman and Hornby Islands.

Learn More

Seniors Advocate Participates in Long-Term Care Survey

The Seniors Advocate recently joined the efforts of volunteer surveyors in downtown Vancouver by interviewing seniors living in long term care about their quality of life. Read more about a volunteer’s experience working with the Seniors Advocate, as well as her reflections on patient-centered care in residential care homes. OSA will be seeking volunteers until spring 2023. Find out more about volunteering on the project website.

Learn More

For more information, visit the Seniors Advocate web site at www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca.

November 2022 Seniors Report

By Donna Webb, Seniors Convenor

BC Seniors News

Report Release – BC Seniors: Falling Further Behind

In September, the Seniors Advocate released OSA’s latest report “BC Seniors: Falling Further Behind” on the income and affordability challenges of BC seniors. The report highlights the impact of rising costs on seniors who depend on government pensions and ranks BC as the lowest in its financial support for seniors compared to other provinces and territories.

Seniors Advocate Statement on the International Day of Older Persons 2022

October 1 was the International Day of Older Persons 2022 and it was an excellent opportunity to recognize the valuable contributions seniors make every day in communities throughout BC.

Meeting of the OSA Council of Advisors

The OSA Council of Advisors (COA) came together in-person last month for the first time in nearly three years. The Minister of Health and Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors’ Services and Long-Term Care joined to honour outgoing COA members Bill Routley, Diane Jeffries and Margaret Monro.

Seniors Advocate at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Convention

The Seniors Advocate hosted a workshop and panel discussion on the role of local government in supporting seniors at the 2022 UBCM Convention. The panel discussed innovative projects that exemplify ways that municipalities can leverage provincial investments for the benefit of seniors. She also held meetings with a number of municipal stakeholders on issues related to seniors.

Long-Term Care Volunteer Surveyors Share Their Experiences

Dedicated volunteers from diverse backgrounds are joining the survey team to listen to the experiences of older adults living in long-term care and learn about their quality of life. Some volunteer surveyors are fluent in other languages and invite residents to participate in the survey in their preferred language.

For more information, visit the Seniors Advocate web site at www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca.



October 2022 Seniors Report

By Donna Webb, Seniors Convenor


Below are links to some of the studies relating to seniors and aging occurring at UBC.

Geriatrics and gerontology – UBC

Aging | UBC Health

Aging – UBC Experts Guide – The University of British Columbia

Social and biological determinants of aging – UBC

UBC University of BC Division of Geriatrics

Division of Geriatric Medicine – Academic Unit – Vancouver

GERO @ the UBC School of Nursing

Research Cluster in Aging in Place

Residency & Education – UBC Division of Geriatrics

Active Aging Research Team