Senior Citizens Organizations of British Columbia

Canada is one of the best countries in the world to be a senior citizen. The government and the non-profit sector has ample infrastructure to support health, financial, and emotional support to senior members of the society. British Columbia is no exception. Here are a number of top organizations providing support, care, and information to senior citizens in BC:

The British Columbia Old Age Pensioners’ Organization (BCOPA)

The BCOPA is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing support to pensioners and to address issues that affect senior citizens in BC. The organization is particularly useful in helping retirees retain their pensions. The BCOPA also provides help and support to access Medicare and Pharmacare in the province. The BCOPA additionally offers seniors help with regards to taxation, housing and social programs. The organization is also politically active and promotes issues important to the wellbeing on seniors in the province, such as ensuring equality in consultation and improving health services. The BCOPA has numerous branches scattered throughout the province.

The Seniors Citizens Association of British Columbia (SCABC)

The SCABC is an organization “for and by” senior citizens of British Columbia. The entity aims to protect the rights of seniors and rally for social programs and welfare support that improve the living conditions of senior citizens in the province. The SCABC promotes the pensioner movement in the province in association with pensioner organizations. The group is also pioneering ways to protect the provisions guaranteed under Old Age Security and Assistance acts. The SCABC functions as a charitable organization. None of the funds or fees collected are intended as profit to members. The SCABC also aims to improve housing conditions of senior citizens.

The British Columbia Federation of Retired Union Members (BC FORUM)

Established in 1995, the BC FORUM exists to represent the voice of retired trade unionists in the province’s political scene. This federation is registered as a non-profit society dedicated to the betterment of retired union members. The BC FORUM represents interests of senior members of unions, which includes all union members who are over 50. The BC FORUM tries to continue the trade union movement well into retirement. The BC FORUM offers plenty of opportunities for senior union members to network. Groups within the federation negotiate to get access to savings programs, and senior citizen services and products.

The New Vista Society (NVS)

The NVS is a non-profit organization dedicated to provide housing, support, and care for senior citizens in British Columbia. The society is a registered charity as well. The NVS has a dedicated staff that offers assistance to seniors in need. There are three ways the NVS provides care. The society owns and runs the Vista Care Home, a residential care facility for seniors with serious health issues like dementia. In addition, the NVS manages 540 independent townhouses and apartments intended for low- to moderate-income seniors and their families. The society also has a number of care programs to help seniors tackling complex health issues that require constant medical attention.

The British Columbia Government Retired Employees Association (BC GREA)

The BC GREA is mainly an advocacy and support organization for seniors receiving superannuation under the Pension (Public Service) Act of British Columbia. This organization promotes interests and welfare of all seniors receiving this superannuation. This association currently has about 9,000 members in BC. Members also volunteer and hold networking events. Members in hospitals also receive regular visits and participate in get-together events.

The above organizations, and many others, are part of the Council of Senior Citizen Organizations in British Columbia (COSCO). This umbrella organization brings together over 75 senior organizations operating in the province, in addition to individual members who facilitate the process. COSCO is privately run by a board of directors, and aims to improve the programs and advocacy efforts targeting seniors in the province.

Saving for Retirement in Canada

Saving for retirement should be a priority for all wage earners in Canada. Seniors cannot entirely rely on their pensions to take care of all medical and other needs in old age. According to national data, only about 60 percent of Canadians save to retirement. Among this 60 percent, many do not save wisely.

Canadians should expect to live for two or three decades following retirement. During this time, it will be quite impossible to earn a steady income. Even if you are willing to freelance, health issues will get in the way. Senior citizens who need money for emergency medical care or housing cannot obtain loans the traditional way. Essentially, old age is a vulnerable time in life. Therefore, Canadians must plan well ahead for retirement financially.

Here are some tips to start saving smartly for retirement:

Start as Early as Possible

Though most people start saving for retirement in their late 40s or early 50s, financial experts say people should really start doing this in their twenties. But most young people are so concerned about getting a steady job, buying a vehicle, or borrowing for a house, they rarely think about retirement. However, if you aren’t saving for retirement now, start right away. The longer your money gathers in a retirement savings account, the higher the gains from interest would be.

Plan to Pay Off All Debt before Retiring

Do not plan on entering old age with hefty debts. If you think paying off debt is bad when you are earning a monthly wage, it’s a nightmare when you don’t have an income. Therefore, plan to pay off your debts, like mortgage, at least by your mid fifties. Do not let these big loans brew and accrue interest. Try to reduce superficial and unnecessary costs, so you can retire in peace without debt. Keep in mind that if you default on a debt when you are about to retire, you could risk losing your savings, or collateral offered, like your house.

Look beyond Government Bonds

Conventionally, Canadians put their retirement savings in government bonds. Three decades ago, a Canadian government bond yielded over 10 percent in interest. Today, a 10-year bond will yield about 2 percent. Inflation will simply kill your savings. Therefore, savvy retirement savers should look towards other means of low-risk investments. Don’t put your retirement savings in the stock market; if an event like the Great Recession or Brexit happens again, you could lose everything. Ideally, get your principal on the fixed-income side. If you going to take risks with your money, do it with equity.

Relocate

Once you are retired, you might not need to live in an expensive house or apartment in the city. There’s no commute to work, and you might find the cacophony rather disturbing. Many retirees find it advantageous to sell off high-demand residences in the suburbs or the city and move to a quieter, less urban, and cheaper area. This is a good option to save up on living expenses during retired years. Just make sure that the area you plan to retire in has adequate healthcare facilities.

Stay Away from High-Risk Investments

If you are 50 or over, then do not get involved in high-risk investments if your income is not in the top 10 percent of the country. If you lost $10, 000 in your twenties, you would have decades to pay it off. When you lose a similar amount of money close to retirement, you don’t have time like that. Therefore, be careful with your investments. Don’t bet it all.

It would also be helpful to take up a good job with great retirement benefits when you are in your forties. Then you would not be entirely reliant on savings.

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