03/06/2015 02:16 EST | Updated 05/05/2015 05:59 EDT

Seniors discounts should not be scrapped, says advocate

A seniors' advocate from Victoria, B.C., says a recent study that says seniors' discounts from local governments should be scrapped doesn't reflect her experience of how older Canadians are living.

The study claims the percentage of poor people in the seniors age group is smaller than any other age group in the country, and municipalities giving a break to seniors leads to poorer younger people subsidizing wealthier seniors.

"I hear from seniors who leave their medication on the counter because they can't afford to pay for it and eat," said Lyne England, President of Greater Victoria Seniors. "I think that's a very telling sign that seniors are not well off, they're not wealthy."

England said the study's author,Harry Kitchen, is referring to a small segment of seniors who were born pre-baby boom and have retired with a pension.

Instead, she said factors like high real estate values and longer life expectancy means many seniors unexpectedly find themselves in financial trouble, especially if previously planned arrangements with family members don't work out.

"Through no fault of their own, they struggle," said England. "They really do struggle."

England said cancelling seniors' discounts can have significant repercussions for older Canadians.

For example, she's heard from seniors who don't travel as much to visit family since BC Ferries started charging them half price instead of letting them on for free. Seniors driving their vehicles on to the ferry still have to pay full price.

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Should seniors discounts be scrapped?