Seniors Occupy Health Minister's Office to Challenge Cut to Seniors Drug Plan
Edmonton - A number of seniors' organizations from Public Interest Alberta's Seniors Task Force are demanding to know why the Alberta Government is planning to eliminate the seniors drug program in favour of a means-tested system while both the Health Minister and Premier have previously committed to not eliminate the plan.
Since last September the organizations have repeatedly requested to meet the Health Minister in order to understand how the government expects to save $180 million as announced in last March's provincial budget.
"That savings to government is in fact a transfer of costs, not to seniors in general, but to those who have a high need for prescription medication -- the sick, frail and chronically ill," says Noel Somerville, the Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta's Seniors Task Force. "If instituted, this plan will become a form of surtax on people simply because they are sick, and we don't know anyone who thinks that is acceptable public policy, particularly in the only province that imposes a flat 10% income tax on all its citizens regardless of income."
The seniors want to know why the Premier and the Minister are going to break the promises they made in writing in two separate letters not to eliminate the seniors drug plan. See the letters here: pialberta.org/content/seniors-occupy-health-ministers-office-challenge-cut-seniors-drug-plan
Seniors who staged a sit-in at Health Minister Fred Horne's office are angry that Premier Redford will not meet with the representatives from various seniors organizations to explain if her government will be pushing ahead with the plan to cut $180 million out of the current seniors drug plan and implement a means-tested plan.
"Alison Redford met with many of the seniors groups, including Public Interest Alberta when she was running for leader of the PC Party, and she has clearly said that her government would not cut or change the current seniors drug plan," says Noel Somerville, Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta's Seniors' Task Force. "We will have the meeting with Minister Fred Horne that he only agreed to because of our sit-in, but to say we are disappointed in the Premier is an understatement."
The sit-in of Minister Horne's office ended at 12:40 AM January 17th when Minister Horne's Chief of Staff called in the Edmonton Police and the seniors agreed to leave the office.
"Other than the fact that the Minister's staff refused to let food into the office that was brought by supports last night, the relationship with the staff was cordial and accommodating," remarks Noel Somerville. "While we may have been uncomfortable for a few hours, the main point is that many seniors are going to be seriously hurt if the Redford government actually follows through on their plan to transfer the $180 million cut onto the backs of frail and sick seniors who require expensive medications."
Horne has agreed to a meeting on February 13th, 2014, but seniors are still waiting on the Premier. Read more at pialberta.org
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