THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The Thompson-Okanagan is leading the province in retirement units available for seniors, but many seniors who want assisted living aren't moving in.
That's according to B.C.'s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie, who says the cost of living in retirement facilities can add up.
"Assisted living is beneficial for some seniors, but they can’t afford it," Mackenzie says.
Mackenzie has been in talks with the province, and she'd like to see more subsidized units for people who can't afford to stay in care facilities.
She does point out that the B.C. Interior is doing very well with a healthy vacancy rate in assisted living units.
A new report from the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation does show a slight drop in the vacancy rate for senior living in the Thompson-Shuswap.
Taylor Pardy with CHMC says in 2015 the vacancy rate for independent living facilities in the region was 14.9 per cent but now it's sitting at 10.7 per cent.
"It’s still higher than a lot of other places in B.C., one of the highest actually," Pardy says.
The only region with a higher rate than the Thompson-Shuswap is the South Okanagan at 16.3 per cent, according to the report.
"Most people would consider 10 per cent to be a very healthy vacancy rate," Mackenzie says. "Part of the challenge is that the numbers are small so changes sound dramatic."
In the past year, 462 senior living units have been added in the Thompson-Okanagan, which the report says contributes to the "modest decline" in vacancy rates. More than 400 of those units were built in Kelowna.
The B.C. Interior is doing much better when compared to the Lower Mainland's senior living vacancy rate which has gone down significantly within one year.
"The Lower Mainland recorded the largest year-over year total vacancy rate decline for independent living spaces, from 9.8 per cent in 2015 to 5.7 per cent in 2016," the report says.
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