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White Rock woman looks for answers to mother's rent bump

Lolo Young (right) and her mother, Ning Hsiang Kuo, are searching for answers after Kuo
Lolo Young (right) and her mother, Ning Hsiang Kuo, are searching for answers after Kuo's care-home costs spiked without explanation.
— image credit: Contributed photo

A White Rock woman is searching for answers after her elderly mother’s care-home costs spiked without explanation.

Lolo Young’s 91-year-old mother, Ning Hsiang Kuo, who resides at Rosewood Manor in Richmond, pays a monthly rate based on the net income reported on her tax returns from the previous year.

But in early 2013, Young – who looks after her mother’s finances – received a T5007 tax slip for the provincial seniors supplement for the previous taxation year. Through this supplement, Kuo receives $49.30 a month.

The supplement is provided to low-income seniors as a provincial top-up to the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and ensures a “conditionally guaranteed minimum income level for residents of B.C.”

After filing the supplement with her mother’s 2012 income-tax return, Young told Peace Arch News she was shocked to discover Kuo’s annual net income increased to $15,928, resulting in a nearly $50 monthly increase for care-home costs.

“My parents have been receiving this supplement for decades; why is it only now that they are issuing a tax slip? Why did you not do that in the past? And if it was a mistake in the past and you’re correcting it now, you need to inform people,” she said.

Finance ministry official Glenn Plummer told PAN it’s possible that Young’s mother was missed in the past by the Canada Revenue Agency, and he referred questions to them.

CRA information officer Heidi Hofstad confirmed the T5007 slip is not new.

“The income shown on the T5007 slip is not taxable, but recipients must include the amounts in calculating net income on their T1 income tax and benefit return,” she said.

Hofstad said Young would need to contact the provincial government for further information regarding the seniors supplement.

Young – a chartered general accountant – noted she is concerned for other seniors, who may not have filed the slip because they didn’t know what it was for.

Adding to her frustration is the lack of explanation from the province for the sudden change. While Young noted Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg was receptive and met to discuss her situation in early December, there has been no movement since.

“This is supposed to be urgent,” she said. “I don’t see why this is taking so long.”

Hogg would not comment on Young’s situation specifically, citing confidentiality issues, but said that in general it can take time when dealing with multiple ministries.

“Any time we get any issues that are complex, we obviously try to follow through with them,” he said. “Often the information that we get coming in is not consistent with what the records show and what the ministry provides to us, so in those instances, we have to try and work through the discrepancies.”

But for every month that goes forward, Young – who is also retired and supplementing her mother’s cost of living with her own RRSPs – is forced to pay the extra $49.30.

Vancouver Coastal Health media relations officer Anna Marie D’Angelo told PAN that someone would be contacting Young and noted that if a mistake had been made, the error would be corrected.

 

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