Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Monday, February 09, 2004

Freddies Diary - Article 2 - February 9, 2004 

The PC governments promised the seniors of Alberta a Safety Net that would included the following:
1. Alberta Assured Income Plan
2. Property Tax Reduction Benefit
3. Seniors' Renters Assistance
4. Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan
5. Alberta Blue Cross
6. Extended Health Benefits Program
7. Long Term Care Centers
8. Seniors Emergency Medical Alert
9. Seniors Independent Living Program
10. Self contained apartment for seniors
11. Lodge Program
12. Home Care
13. Aids to Daily Living Program
14. Family and Community Support Services
15. Transportation Grants

Shortly after Klein's Government came to power in 1993, there was an announcement that five old seniors' benefit programs would be canceled and replaced by a new Program called "Alberta Seniors Benefit". Klein's propaganda machine gave the public the impression that before any cuts would be made to seniors' programs, the government would consult with seniors, and listen and act upon whatever information they obtained from the meetings.

After two years of meetings and $250,000 of taxpayer money, it appears their plans for the cuts were already in place ready to be implemented regardless of the input from seniors. Neil Reimer, the president of the Alberta Council on Aging at the time said of these meetings, "Seniors were mislead. Seniors groups were chastised for telling the truth."

Community Development Minister, Gary Mar, told reporters: "If the threshold needs to be raised, we are prepared to do that. But at the end of the day, we will have to move the money around within programs." This was the first clue that any information gathered at the meetings would make little difference.

The claw back to the seniors' benefit programs began with the February, 1994 budget that called for a cutback of $918 million from the 1993 budget and $185 million of the total would come from five old seniors' benefit programs. The old seniors' benefit programs included the following:

1. The Home Adaptation Program, provided grants of up to $5000 to modify housing for wheelchairs - phased out
2. Seniors independent living program - phased out
3. Seniors with incomes under $25,000 were eligible for up to $4000 for home improvements - phased out.
4. 43% of all seniors had to start paying health insurance premiums.
5. The senior's $650 property tax rebate was phased out partially on July 1/94 and was totally phased our January 1, 1995.
Under the new plan, only seniors earning less than $10,432 received full seniors' benefits. Others with incomes up to $18,400 received some benefit. Income of more than $18,400 received zero benefit. Couples receiving more than $25,000 income were also exempt. These cutbacks came into effect on July 1, 1994.

Senior benefits and programs as promised and delivered prior to 1991 were the corner stone of retirement plans of the majority of Alberta Seniors who had little opportunity to recoup the loss of their promised benefits.
This news printed in 'the Journal' dated February 1994, could assist you with your voting decision at the next election.

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