Skip to content

VIDEO: Seniors take to the streets for better pensions across B.C.

Tin Cup initiative aims to increase OAP to Canadian poverty level

Seniors in several locations across B.C. took a walk for a reason Thursday (March 21) morning.

In White Rock, as well as at locations in Vernon, Terrace, Ladysmith, Kamloops and Prince George, seniors gathered with signs, posters and placards for the Tin Cup March for Fair Senior’s Pensions, held simultaneously across the province to draw attention to the plight of seniors living in poverty.

In South Surrey, a small group of seniors gathered outside South Surrey-White Rock MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay’s office and marched around the area with signs saying “We want change now – not charity” and “1-2-3-4, we’re sick and tired of being poor,” among others.

This event marks the inaugural march for the Semiahmoo Peninsula. The original was started in Vernon just last year by organizer Carole Fawcett, and has expanded across B.C. since.

“It’s growing, and I think it’s going to grow even more, moving forward,” said White Rock/South Surrey march organizer Sue Reid, who has heard there’s about 15 seniors who are homeless and living in their cars – if they’re lucky enough to have a car – in White Rock.

READ ALSO: March for Fair Seniors’ Pensions set for March 21 in White Rock

“When they only make $17,000 with old age pension and the Canadian poverty threshold is $25,252 a year, it’s clear (seniors) don’t have enough. (Old Age Pension) should be increased up to poverty level.”

As cars driving past honked their horns in support of the march, Reid noted more and more seniors are unable to afford the cost of living.

She said she knows of one family who say they are supplementing their senior family members every month – taking funds out of their own, stretched budget – because they can’t make ends meet without the monthly help.

“These are just regular, everyday people, just like us… you see (the poverty) happening more and more.”

In Vernon, nearly 100 protesters showed up to march, Fawcett said.

“The turnout is amazing and I am just so touched,” she said.

Fawcett’s goal is that the government will increase pensions, to reflect the rising inflation across the country.

READ MORE: Pension poor seniors march for more money in Vernon

Because it was spring break, youth as well as seniors came out in support in Terrace, with sunny views of the city’s snow-capped local mountains as a backdrop, gathering outside the Tillicum Twin Theatres.

“We were the second community that came on board with the organizer,” said Diana Penner, president of Skeena Valley Seniors Society.

The demonstration, which later turned into a rally to the office of MLA Ellis Ross, MP Taylor Bachrach and to city hall, was also joined by some young faces who held the signs of “Seniors on government pension live in poverty” and “Raise government pensions above the poverty line.”

In Ladysmith, seniors marched along 1st Avenue in support of the march, in solidarity with all the other seniors and events around the province. Ladysmith march organizer Joanne Burroughs said 23 per cent of people experiencing homelessness in B.C. are seniors.

“That’s the highest it’s ever been,” she said. “They’re just not getting anything and you can’t live on what they’re giving people. I was just really mad at the situation and people not being aware of it.”

Burroughs said she hopes the Tin Cup movement makes its way across the country, as old age security is a federal file. She stressed that higher pensions won’t only benefit today’s seniors.

“It is for seniors and future seniors… It’s going to be worse for them,” she said.

Visit for more details.

– with files from Bowen Assman, Prabhnoor Kaur and Greg Sakaki

Tricia Weel

About the Author: Tricia Weel

I’m a lifelong writer, and worked as a journalist in community newspapers for more than a decade, from White Rock to Parksville and Qualicum Beach, to Abbotsford and Surrey, from 2001-2012
Read more