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Seniors First BC is a charitable, non-profit, provincial society that provides assistance and support to older adults across BC who are vulnerable to abuse or mistreatment, as well as third parties assisting older adults. We also help older adults in navigating the legal system to ensure that their legal rights are protected. Our services are provided through our Seniors Abuse and Information Line, Victim Services Program, Legal Advocacy Program, Elder Law Program, and Public Education and Outreach Program. Seniors First BC continues to assist seniors through these challenging times.
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Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination

Between August 12th and 25th, BC reported a total of 7,369 new COVID-19 cases. Of these cases, people not vaccinated accounted for 82% of cases and 85.9% of hospitalizations. 

To limit COVID-19 transmission and to increase immunization as we enter the fall, the BC Government announced that several services, events, and businesses will be asking for proof of vaccination and valid government ID for entry. These include:

  • Indoor ticketed events.
  • Indoor and outdoor restaurants, bars, and pubs.
  • Night clubs, casinos, and movie theatres.
  • Gyms, pools, and recreation facilities.
  • Indoor gatherings such as weddings, parties, conferences, and meetings.
  • Indoor recreational classes and activities, such as pottery and art.

Starting on September 13th, you must have your first dose of the vaccine, and on October 24th, you must be fully vaccinated. The vaccine card is available both digitally and as a printed copy.

Those without a smartphone, computer, and printer can ask a family member or a friend to help print the card, or by visiting a Service BC location. Additionally, physical copies are available by mail by calling 1-833-838-2323 any day between 7 am to 7 pm. This number can also be called if your records on Health Gateway are incorrect, or if you need to know your Personal Health Number. For information on how to get vaccinated, visit this page here.

More information:
Proof of vaccination and the BC Vaccine Card
B.C. COVID-19 pandemic update (August 27, 2021)
How to get vaccinated for COVID-19

Federal Election Voting at Seniors' Residences and Long-Term Care Facilities

Image courtesy of Elections Canada

This year’s Federal Election will be taking place on September 20th. Those living in seniors’ residences and long-term facilities will have several ways to vote to ensure their safety.

Depending on the health measures in place and the administrative support available, facilities may offer on-site polling at pre-set dates and times, special ballot kits from Elections Canada, or mail voting. Facility staff will provide each resident with their voter information cards and other details about their voting options approximately two weeks prior to the election date.

Also, depending on the health and safety policies of their facilities regarding traveling off site, residents may be able to vote at assigned advance polling stations between September 11th to 13th, at any local Elections Canada office before 6:00pm on September 14th, or at their assigned polling station on election day.

Residents who need assistance or additional information on how to vote can speak to their facility administrators or contact their local Elections Canada office by searching for a location and its contact information here.

More information:
Elections Canada: Voting at Seniors’ Residences and Long-Term Care Facilities

What Are Rent Banks?

In late March 2020, roughly 17% of Canadians aged 25 to 64 reported facing serious financial difficulties because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including issues paying rent, meeting utility bills, and affording groceries. In times like this, the rent banks across BC can help keep people housed and provide stability in their lives.  

Operated by local non-profit organizations, rent banks are short-term tools for renters with low to moderate income who are at risk of homelessness due to circumstances that negatively impact their financial abilities. Rent banks provide temporary, repayable loans of up to $2,500 to help with rent, with a maximum of $500 for utilities such as gas and hydro. They also help provide stability for the future by giving financial information, mediation for renters with issues with landlords, and referrals to other community services. Additionally, rent banks can assist with providing damage deposits to facilitate moving. 

Currently, 110 communities in BC have rent banks. To apply for a loan, first use BC Rent Bank's online search tool to find one in your area, which can be accessed here. After selecting your location, you can complete an application for a loan. While each rent bank has their own criteria, they will generally require that: you are at least 19; are a resident in a community; have proof that you are able to repay the borrowed money; are experiencing an unexpected and temporary crisis; and last, be able to show how the loan will provide stability to your situation. Some rent banks provide interest free loans, while others may require a monthly administrative fee or charge interest. 

If you are looking for more information on rental or housing assistance options, call 2-1-1 or visit BC Housing’s website here.

More information: 
Statistics Canada: Economic Consequences of COVID-19
BC Rent Banks

1-800-O-Canada and Service Canada Scams

Canadians may occasionally receive messages via phone, mail, email, and text from 1-800-O Canada (1-800-622-6232) or people claiming to be employed with Service Canada. However, recipients of these communications must be cautious with these callers since they may be fraudsters posing as government agents. 

As the hotline for the Canadian Government’s services and general information, 1-800-O-Canada rarely makes unsolicited attempts to contact Canadians. Service Canada, which provides Canadians with the government programs and benefits, may unexpectedly contact you in the process of delivering its services, though this is very rare. Additionally, both 1-800-O-Canada and Service Canada will only send you information that you requested.

Fraudsters, however, will ask for information in ways that are not normally used by federal government employees. For example, they may request personal information such as your Social Insurance Number or credit card details by phone, text message, or email. Additionally, they may ask you to complete financial transactions through phone or email notifications, such as by asking you to click on hyperlinks to deposit money from benefits.

If you receive communications from someone claiming to be a Service Canada employee and you are doubtful, call the 1-800-O-Canada number (1-800-622-6232) and they can connect you directly with the program or service that tried to contact you to gain more information or to verify that the communication was legitimate. If you suspect that you have been defrauded, contact your bank and your local police. In addition, contact the Canada Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1‑888-495-8501 or use their online reporting system here.

Here are some additional tips to protect yourself: 
  • The displayed name on Caller ID should not be used to confirm a caller’s identity since scammers can alter the information to pretend to be another individual, a company, or a government service.
  • If someone asks you to pay taxes or other fees via phone, email, or text message, be suspicious since it may be a scam. Ask a family member or a friend for a second opinion.
  • Keep your address information up to date with all government departments and services.
  • Criminals can steal your information when you click on links through a method called phishing, so be cautious when clicking on links in emails or text messages. 
  • If you receive a call from the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) always ask for the agent’s ID number. You can tell the caller that you will check their identity first, then hang up, and call the CRA’s Individual Tax Enquiries Line at 1800- 959-8281 and provide them with the agent’s ID number and first name. You will have to answer some security questions. If the caller is legitimate, the CRA will either connect you back with that agent or provide you with a direct number to call them back.
  • The CRA will never ask you to make a payment via Interac e-transfer, gift cards, or prepaid credit cards, threaten you with arrest, or leave threatening voice mails.

Office of the Seniors Advocate Annual Report Release

Image courtesy of Office of the Seniors Advocate

British Columbia’s Office of the Seniors Advocate (OSA) recently released its 7th annual report for the period of April 1st, 2020 to March 31st, 2021. 

OSA reviews services for seniors and the issues that they may face, including housing, healthcare, transportation, income, and personal support. After analyzing these issues, OSA makes recommendations to service providers and BC government agencies. In addition, OSA publishes a number of guides and resources for seniors, such as Monitoring Seniors Services 2020, and distributes the BC Seniors’ Guide

The annual report highlights statistics for their information and referral service. Unsurprisingly, most calls related to COVID-19 and health care issues as well as housing. In addition, the report surveys systemic issues that are affecting seniors, including housing affordability and visitation restrictions in care facilities and assisted living residences, as well as initiatives that OSA is undertaking in response to them. For instance, the OSA will be conducting several surveys with staff of BC care homes to determine better practices for the future and to better manage outbreaks. 

To read the most recent annual report, or to find previous editions, visit this page here. For information on seniors' services and programs in BC, contact the OSA's information and referral service weekdays between 8:30am to 4:30pm by phone at 1-877-952-3181 toll-free or 250-952-3181 in Victoria and by email at

More information:
Office of the Seniors Advocate

Local BC Senior News

Here are some events and news that are relevant to BC seniors. 

55+ BC Games Event: Give It a Try (Castlegar)
On September 17th, the 55+ BC Games is hosting “Give It a Try!”, which is a free event at Castlegar Complex that will be held between 9am to 2pm and offer hour-long activity sessions including darts, floor curling, pickleball, carpet bowling, cribbage, swimming, tennis, and whist. Lunch will be provided for free. All events will follow BC public health orders and guidelines. Registration is free and must be completed by September 14th by phone at 250-365-3386 or on their event page here

Elk Valley Phone Scams
After several reports of scams targeting Elk Valley residents, the Elk Valley RCMP is alerting the public to be more cautious on the phone. Residents have reported speaking to callers who claimed to be investigating them for possessing drugs, or that they worked for the national defence or a bank. The callers would then demand that they send money over the phone for a debt that they owed. The RCMP warned the public against sending money without taking proper precautions such as verifying the identity of the callers, and that residents should not assume that the callers are legitimate, especially since computer software can alter the caller information and copy other phone numbers.
More information: My East Kootenay Now

Seniors DISCovery Network Weekly Tai Chi Sessions (Vancouver)
MOSAIC BC’s Seniors DISCovery Network is inviting seniors aged 55+ to participate in their free Tai Chi sessions every Monday between 10am to 11:30am on Zoom or in person at their location at 5575 Boundary Road in Vancouver. The sessions, which are in English, will include three types of Tai Chi: Ba Duan Jin, the 24 forms of Taijiqian, and the 42 forms of Taijiqian. To register, email or call 604-362-4318. 
More information: MOSAIC BC

Sechelt Seniors Volunteering at Local Restaurants
After seeing a number of their favourite restaurants close down in Sechelt’s downtown due to a labour shortage, a group of seniors from Coasters Helping Coasters, a volunteer organization, are temporarily filling in the needed restaurant duties to help keep them running. The group of 25 seniors work in 4-hour unpaid shifts and asks establishments to donate the wages that would normally go to their employees to Habitat for Humanity or the local food bank. As of August 25th, they have raised over $1,300. 
More information: CBC News

Healthy Aging Tip: Osteoporosis and Bone Health

At least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from osteoporosis at some point in their lives. An estimated 2 million Canadians are affected by osteoporosis, and 80% of all bone fractures are the result of issues involving osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a disease that makes bones thin and brittle, and typically begins after age 60. Those with osteoporosis will gradually develop many holes in their bones, which causes them to be sponge-like. The disease can greatly increase one’s risk of injury, with common injuries being a fractured wrist, spine, shoulder, and hip bone. While most common in women, it can also affect men as well. 
Besides age, several factors can increase your risk of having osteoporosis:

  • Having a thin body. 
  • The presence of osteoporosis in your family’s health history.
  • Being of an Asian or European background.
  • Lifestyles habits, such as smoking, not exercising regularly, overconsuming alcohol, and consuming insufficient amounts of calcium or vitamin D. 

People often have osteoporosis without noticing it, and the first signs may be after having broken a bone after falling or bumping into something. In more serious cases of the disease, you may notice yourself becoming shorter, having back pain, and noticing that your backbone is curved. 

A doctor can diagnose someone for osteoporosis by asking about their symptoms, doing physical examinations, and administering tests to determine their bone thickness. It is important to get diagnosed early to prevent bone fractures, and it is recommended that anyone who is 65 or older gets tested for their bone density. Additionally, doctors may prescribe with medicine to help reduce bone loss.

Lifestyle changes can help prevent osteoporosis. For your diet, try to get enough calcium and vitamin D to build strong bones. For more calcium, opt for a diet with cheese, yogurt, milk, and/or fortified dairy-alternative such as soy or vegan products. Vitamin D is present in eggs, fatty fish, and soft margarine. In addition, Osteoporosis Canada recommends all older adults to take Vitamin D supplements as well. Additionally, trying to quit smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and having sufficient exercise, such as by lifting weights, walking, or jogging. 

If you or your loved one has osteoporosis, consider making your home safer to prevent falls, such as by removing rugs and clutter that can cause trips and, if necessary, installing handrails. 

More information:
Fast Facts: Osteoporosis Canada
HealthLink BC: Osteoporosis

Community Resource Highlight: Canada HomeShare

Image courtesy of Canada Home Share.

Our September community resource highlight is the Canada HomeShare program in Metro Vancouver.  

Managed by the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE), this program was created with the stated objective to resolve two issues at once: first, to help students find safe and affordable housing by matching them with older adults with spare rooms in their homes who may not otherwise afford housing prices in the Lower Mainland; second, to help older adults enjoy easier and more relaxing lifestyles by tasking students with helping with household duties in exchange for a more affordable rent, which would then support aging in place. Currently, the Canada HomeShare program in Metro Vancouver has partnered with Simon Fraser University to offer housing with reduced prices to students at approximately $400-$600 per month. 

Metro Vancouver’s Canada Homeshare will provide a presentation about its program as part of the City of Surrey’s Focus on Seniors Webinar Series on September 15th, 2021 at 11AM. Registration for this event can be done here.

Older adults with spare rooms in their homes who are looking to participate in this program, visit this page here for more details.

More information: Canada HomeShare

Seniors First BC Programs

Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL)
Our province-wide confidential Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL) is a safe place for older adults and those who care about them to talk to a trained intake worker about their needs, as well as abuse or mistreatment and receive information and support about issues that impact the health and well-being of an older adult. For more information contact us at 604-437-1940 or Toll-Free 1-866-437-1940, weekdays 8 am to 8 pm and weekends 10 am to 5:30 pm (except statutory holidays).

Elder Law Clinic

The Elder Law Clinic operated by Seniors First BC offers pro bono legal services to eligible older adults residing in British Columbia on a wide range of legal matters, including:
•    Preparing wills, powers of attorney, representation agreements     
•    Understanding your legal proceedings and what to expect in court 
•    Reviewing court documents 
•    Preparing your own case and submissions 
•    Representation at certain court hearings
•    Assistance in matters of adult guardianship
•    General legal advice 

Contact our legal program at 604-336-5653 for further information or to arrange a consultation with a lawyer.
While we do not offer legal services in either family or criminal law, we can direct persons to organizations who may be able to assist.

To learn more about our programs, visit this page here.

Upcoming Seniors First BC Webinars

Powers of Attorney, Joint Bank Accounts, and Representation Agreements
Date/Time: September 15, 2021 at 11:00am Pacific Time
Registration details here.

Bullying Between Older Adults in Communal Settings
Date/Time: September 21, 2021 at 2:00pm Pacific Time
Registration details here.

BC Opioid Crisis: Response, Safety, and Resources
Date/Time: September 23, 2021 at 1:00pm Pacific Time
Registration details here.

Elder Abuse: What is it? How Do We Deal With It?
Date/Time: September 28, 2021 at 1:00pm Pacific Time
Registration details here.
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