We need to talk about seniors’ income

Political and media cycles being what they are, social issues requiring our attention are often destined to emerge, then disappear without knowing any outcome or progress. For an association like ours, which works to defend and promote the rights of Quebec seniors, it is a bit like our daily bread.

This is still the case today, when the crises affecting seniors have the particularity of being massive, while requiring a lot of work and effort to tackle them. However, this requires an investment of time which often does not survive the cycles.

We could talk about the crisis of Quebec’s home support system, which is simply not adapted to a harsh demographic reality which will eventually catch up with us and cost us dearly. Also talk about the housing crisis, which hurts seniors, especially those who are the most vulnerable and who face evictions or unsustainable price increases.

However, one of the least talked about crises is the income crisis of seniors, a gigantic share of whom, almost 39%, is doomed to only have federal public income such as the old age pension (OAS) and its supplement. , the guaranteed income supplement (SRG).

To this end, the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS) unveiled this week the update of its study on viable income, an economic indicator developed in order to identify what an income allowing you to live in dignity. The observation is striking: it would take between $30,000 and $43,000, depending on the place of residence, to be able to live with dignity in Quebec. Everywhere, the livable income indicator tells us that the price of dignity has risen faster than the consumer price index (CPI).

When we know that a single senior receiving only basic public income earns approximately $21,000 per year, the gap is striking. To illustrate how vulnerable these seniors are, let’s quote the IRIS, which says that “for a person aged 65 and over who receives basic benefits, full-time employment at minimum wage is necessary to achieve viable income⁠1 “.

Poverty and dignity

We therefore obviously question the notions of poverty and dignity, particularly when a consistent change in indicator causes poverty to jump, on paper. For us, however, one observation is clear: the current gap between the income of the most vulnerable and the viable income is problematic and does not allow an entire generation of senior citizens to participate and flourish in our society, given the constraints financial are important.

For several years, the AQDR has been proposing to take inspiration from viable income and to redefine, as a society, what is decent as a “basic” standard of living.

It is difficult to imagine that we will turn a blind eye to this situation and the longer action is delayed, the steeper the slope of the necessary catch-up will be. All thoughts on viable income must therefore take into account the particularities of seniors and a vision should be developed in this sense.

While seniors have contributed their entire lives to the construction of Quebec and deserve their retirement, we must avoid finding ourselves once again in a political and media cycle that is fading. The government must take inspiration from studies like those of the IRIS and undertake a major project to question our current indicators, as quickly as possible.

1. Read “Livable income in 2024 – Getting out of poverty in the context of a housing crisis”

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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