“People in Yellowknife are really good to seniors,” Helen Lanson said over coffee at the Baker Community Centre.
Lanson and six other seniors, who gather bi-weekly for an informal coffee break, spoke Monday of the perks of living as a senior in Yellowknife.
Shoppers Drug Mart offers seniors (age 50 and older) with an Optimum Card 20 per cent off a variety of products on selected days, one woman noted.
Sutherland’s Drugs gives seniors a 10 per cent discount, said Lanson.
According to the Yellowknife Seniors’ Society, older adults get deals at the Capitol Theatre, the Field House and Pool, and a dollar off bus fair.
“We’re a happy bunch,” said Lanson of her Yellowknife cohort.
The NWT Bureau of Statistics states that in 2016, about 11.7 per cent of the territory’s population was age 60 or older.
Though the territories are still younger compared with provinces in eastern Canada and British Columbia, John Soderberg, the association’s president, said staying in the North after retirement is becoming increasingly common.
This may be in part because of special benefits afforded to NWT seniors.
On Sept. 1, 2017, the Senior Citizen Supplementary Benefit, a monthly pension for seniors living on low-incomes, increased from $160 to $196.
The supplementary benefit is offered as an additional monthly payment to seniors already receiving the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement, a non-taxable benefit for seniors on low-incomes.
About 1,200 seniors across the NWT are eligible for this benefit, Alfred Moses, the minister of Education, Culture and Employment said last October.
NWT Homeowners over age 60 and living on lower incomes may also be eligible for an aging-in-place retrofit loan for up to $10,000.
This loan, offered through the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, is meant to help with energy efficient renovations, and is forgiven after one year.
Even with these incentives though, said Soderberg, it is still rare for Northerners to move their parents up from the south.
“I can think of one or two cases where people have moved a parent from a province into the North because of what we might consider the seniors’ benefit structure,” he said.
His own mother, age 92, loves Northwest Territories, but she would never move up here permanently.
“That goes for a lot of parents from down south,” said Soderberg.
“This would be too much for them.”