'Enough is enough': Kamloops senior to lead rallies demanding federal pension reform | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Enough is enough': Kamloops senior to lead rallies demanding federal pension reform

Kamloops senior resident Celeste Fummerton is an advocate for pension reform.

Many seniors are living below the poverty line in BC and a Kamloops woman wants to change that.

Celeste Fummerton is organizing a rally in the Tournament Capital in Kamloops as part of a bigger initiative called the Senior Tin Cup Movement, where marches and rallies are happening in several cities across the province later in March to bring attention to senior poverty and piddly pensions.

“I don’t know what I’m doing, I’ve never organized something like this before, but we have to do this for seniors, how we’re living just isn’t right, enough is enough,” she said.

A senior herself, the combination of Fummerton’s old age security and pension amounts to an annual income that is $4,000 below the poverty line.

"My underwear are thread bare, that’s one thing, you don’t buy underwear like you used to, nobody can see those, it doesn’t matter what they look like, but it does matter to your psyche,” she said in a previous interview with iNFOnews.ca.

“Underwear is one of the first things that goes, and socks, you wear your socks until they are threadbare.”

Carole Fawcett of Vernon is an organizer of the Senior Tincup Movement.
Carole Fawcett of Vernon is an organizer of the Senior Tincup Movement.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Carol Fawcett

Fummerton read about a Vernon senior Carole Fawcett with the Senior Tin Cup movement alongside a Vancouver organizer. Fawcett is also a senior living on the brink of financial disaster having to make tough decisions every day.

“You have to be very careful anytime you have to spend money, you’re careful where you buy and you double check prices,” she said in a previous interview with iNFOnews.ca. “You might have to eliminate something from your diet. I shop at dollar stores and second-hand stores and I don’t go out anywhere. On rare occasions I’ll buy a blouse or something.”

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The two women are far from alone.

Seniors are one of the biggest cohorts facing homelessness with many living on the financial brink after working for decades. For many seniors the cost of rent has risen to more than the benefits coming in and they are using up savings or inheritance money to stay afloat.

An aging population and rising costs of living along with inadequate incomes for seniors is creating a housing crisis with the average senior spending 78% of their income on rent, according to a report by United Way BC published in November.

Many seniors are struggling to survive on a combined income from their pension, old age security benefits and guaranteed income supplement that amounts to roughly $18,000 per year, far below the poverty line, and an increasing number of them are on the verge of homelessness for the first time in their lives.

The Seniors Tin Cup Movement was named after the idea seniors will be standing on corners holding tin cups in order to survive.

“No one seems to care about the seniors,” Fummerton said. “We’re not asking for charity, we’re asking for change to make it equal.”

READ MORE: Peachland man battling to stay in tiny home facing court, hefty fines

The Kamloops rally will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March. 21 on the sidewalk in front of NuLeaf Market in the 700 block of Fortune Drive.

“We’re going to wave signs and raise awareness, I’d love it if this resulted in pension reform, there is so much wrong for seniors but it would help if can do that much,” Fummerton said. “We’ll all be this age one day, you’ll be happy one day that we did this, everybody’s future depends on it.”

READ MORE: iN VIDEO: Why kids handed out 3,000 coffee sleeves to Vernon health-care workers

The march in Vernon will leave the Schubert Centre at 11 a.m. on March 21 and proceed down 30 Avenue.

“We’ve been getting phenomenal feedback, I think it's going to be a good turnout,” Fawcett said. “It'll get the politicians talking at the very least, the time has come.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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