Overall portrait of low-income seniors in New Brunswick

  1. A fifth has a low income

In 2016 in New Brunswick,137,820 individuals aged 65 years and older (excluded the older people institutionalised) reported an income. Among them, nearly a fifth had a low income, that is 27,830 people including 11,085 men (17.1%) and 16,745 women (23%).

  1. 10,905 more low-income seniors in 10 years

Between 2005 and 2015, there has been a substantial increase of low-income citizens aged 65 years and older in the province, raising from 17,054 to 27,959 individuals which represents an increase of 64%. It is noticeable that the situation of men has deteriorated faster than the one of women. Over those 10 years, the number of men with low income has surged from 5,650 in 2005 to 11,143 in 2015, an increase of 97% therefore more significant than women’s. The number of women with low income has grown too, but at a lower rate, surging from 11,405 to 16,846 people, an increase of 48%. However, poverty remains strong among women as shown in the following Figure.

Number and percentage of low-income seniors by gender. New Brunswick. 2005 and 2015

 Total (Men & Women)MenWomen
 20052015%20052015%20052015%
NB17,05427,95964%5,65011,14397%11,40516,84648%

Source: Statistics Canada, 98-400-X2016126, M. Beaudin’s data compilation

The income of seniors

In 2015, according to the low-income measures after tax 137,820 seniors aged 65 years and older had a low income. Among them more than a third, that is to say 64,915 seniors (47%) were men, while 72,905 (53%) were women. Of these, 17.1% of men and 23% of women had a low income.

Seniors living in the large urban areas of Moncton-Fredericton-Saint John are better off with an average income of $32,155 after tax, compared to $27,585 in the northern small communities and $26,502 in rural areas and villages.

What could be potential solutions to reverse the trend?

Work. It is certain that the amount one can save for their golden years or the pension plan depends on the earnings, the benefits and unionization. Therefore  the salary, particularly the salary below $15,00 per hour, must be increased. It is also important to have a unionized job because it represents the best chance to earn a decent salary and to benefit from a pension plan. That being said, however the Employment Standards Act must be amended in order to make unionization easier.

Public services. Three public services are essential when one is retired, especially when they only get the Canada Pension Plan, the old-age allowance and the Guaranteed income supplement.

The first one is an affordable housing. Seniors should have a wider access to a social housing that could cost only thirty per cent of their income.

The second one is an access to affordable drugs. There is a growing need to implement a national drug program because of the increase of the number of seniors within the population.

Home care is the third one. Currently this service is provided either by the private sector or the non-profit sector and does not adequately addresses demand. In this sector the staff is poorly paid, the working conditions are inadequate and the turnover is high. This sector will only expand and should be led by the government and become an integral part of our public health care system.

The income. For thousands of seniors who only get a small amount from the Canada Pension Plan, the old-age allowance and the Guaranteed income supplement, the amount of the old-age allowance must be increased and indexed to inflation so that the seniors do not lose their purchasing power.

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