Cities urged to end seniors discounts

Study argues breaks on property tax and other fees are unfair to lower income people who need help more than wealthy seniors

Harry Kitchen is an economist and municipal finance expert based in Ontario.

A new study urges municipalities to eliminate breaks for seniors on property taxes and fees to use services such as public transit and fitness classes.

The report by Ontario economist and municipal finance expert Harry Kitchen was released by the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Kitchen argues it’s time to abandon seniors discounts because they increasingly benefit wealthy retirees who don’t need the help.

“They were established at a time when a high percentage of older residents were living in poverty, but poverty rates for seniors have decreased considerably compared with those in the rest of the population,” Kitchen said.

His findings indicate seniors actually have the smallest share of people living in poverty of any age group in Canada.

He recommends grants and special aid be targeted to all low-income people in need, regardless of age.

“Those paying a reduced price are effectively subsidized by those paying the higher price,” Kitchen says in his study.

Cheap or free services to seniors can also lead to excessive use of services and larger-than-required facilities, it says.

Extra revenue from ending blanket discounts for seniors could give cities more flexibility to reduce their reliance on property taxes, he argued.

He warns the inequity of seniors discounts will worsen as the population ages and reform will become increasingly difficult as more voters turn 65.

B.C.’s home owner grant program reduces the property tax on a principle residence by more if the owner is a senior – the tax reduction is up to $845 per year for seniors but is capped at $570 for those under 65.

TransLink charges seniors a $52 for a monthly “concession” pass that’s valid across all zones, while other regular adults are charged $170 a month for a pass that’s good for all zones, or $91 for one zone only.

BC Ferries eliminated a major freebie for seniors a year ago – free travel on non-holiday weekdays. Seniors now pay half price on their passenger fare Monday to Thursday.

Just Posted

Chilliwack student turns school work into business

Dylan Murdy has turned his grade 12 entrepreneurship project into an actual business

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

Police seeking public assistance in locating Popkum man

The RCMP are asking for the public’s help in locating a missing… Continue reading

Home sales finally cooling in Chilliwack

But locally softening in market compares to big drops to the west

VIDEO: Agassiz Community Gardens turns 15

Growing is good for personal and community health

New Jersey forward Taylor Hall wins Hart Trophy as NHL MVP

Vancouver’s Sedin brothers share King Clancy Award for humanitarian efforts

50 new fires sparked in B.C. after lightning strikes across province

Similar conditions seen at the beginning of 2017 wildfire season

B.C. woman graduates high school at age 92

Nanaimo’s Joan Deebank the oldest high school graduate ever in B.C., as far as ministry can confirm

B.C. Appeal Court rules lottery winner must be paid back $600,000 loan

Enone Rosas won $4.1 million in a lottery in 2007 and loaned a portion to a friend

Chilliwack city councillor’s expenses the subject of FOI request by mayor

Discussion about council expenses leads to broader call for more transparency and accountability

VIDEO: Pedestrian struck and killed by train in downtown Abbotsford

Person hit at West Railway and Gladys Avenue late Tuesday night

B.C. man surprised after used needle falls from sky

A Vernon resident said a syringe fell out of the sky and landed at his feet

Liquor review finds issues with B.C. wholesale monopoly

Report calls for ‘conflict of interest’ in system to be fixed

Most Read