BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson formally announced two campaign pledges to deal with concerns underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic in seniors care in B.C.
In a brief video-streamed appearance Monday, Wilkinson said a B.C. Liberal government would commit to $200 million a year over a five years to building new long-term care beds, with the goal of giving all seniors in B.C. their own private room.
He also explained that a new 35% tax credit for seniors, announced on the weekend, would be intended to keep seniors living at home as long as they can. The tax credit would apply to expenses for things like in-home nursing care, housekeeping and handyman services.
“Seniors deserve to be able to live in the comfort and security of their home, as long as they can,” Wilkinson said. “A seniors home is the safest place for them.”
Indeed, most of the deaths from COVID-19 in B.C. has been among seniors living in long-term care homes. In many cases, seniors must share rooms with other seniors.
“The goal is to keep seniors in their own home as long as possible," Wilkinson said.
The 35% tax credit would mean that a senior who spent $20,000 on home support would get back $7,000.
“Some people may say this could be a bit expensive,” Wilkinson said. “But compared to institutional care, which is much, much higher, seniors deserve the option of the comfort and security of their own home.”
The NDP slammed Wilkinson’s tax credit for seniors as “a tax break for wealthy seniors.” The NDP campaign pointed out that the median income for seniors in B.C. is $32,600 a year.
For those seniors who can no longer care for themselves in their own homes, Wilkinson said more spending is needed to provide more seniors living in long-term care private rooms. He slammed the NDP for a lack of action on that score.
“The NDP have talked about this, but like most of their programs, there’s been a lot of talk and no action,” Wilkinson said.
He said a Liberal government would spend $1 billion over the next five years on adding beds, with the goal of ensuring that any senior who wants a private room can get one.
“Sometimes couples want to live together in seniors homes, and that should be accommodated too,” he said.