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 23, 2004

Freddie's Diary - Article 4 

Before the June election on May 1st 1993, Ralph Klein promised, "We will continue our support of those people who built today's Alberta." Ten years later, after stripping seniors benefits away from all but seniors with incomes below poverty levels, Ralph Klein is talking about forfeiting 1.2 billion in Health Care transfer payments. There has been ten years of well documented cuts to seniors benefit programs in this province to prove that Klein's comments were meant despite any back peddling being done in the media. Every Albertan will pay the cost of such a move, including seniors who are already struggling from 10 years of cut backs.
10 years ago, Betty Finch, president of the Society for Retired and Semi Retired said, "Ralph isn't listening and he isn't caring so we have to prove to him that his cuts are hurting people." (It was true then and it is true today.) Based on finances they have seen, the Society has found cuts of 15 and 20 per cent. Neil Reimer, the head of the Council on Aging, with 450 affiliated seniors' organizations and 5 000 individual members, said it was an approach to destroy the middle class seniors. (April 9, 94).
Gary Mar said he might raise the threshold. "We want to be sure he does, that is why we are holding the rally," said Finch. They did in fact raise the threshold by $1 000 for singles to $18,200 and $2 000 for couples to $27,600. Gary Mar said they could not afford to raise the level higher.
A number of groups were asked by the government to give reports regarding the cuts to seniors' programs. Report from the Inter-agency Council on Aging said the cuts are too much and too fast. The Council, which represents all seniors' groups in Alberta, said that instead of cuts, "the funding envelope for all seniors' programs needs to be increased.
Don Achilles from the Retired and Semi-retired said the cuts were forcing seniors to give up 15% of their income while the government is only taking 5% from civil servants. A group was formed May 14, 94 called the Seniors Action Liaison Team. Their plan was to fight a three-year war leading up to the next election in 2001. That battle has waged now for 10 years with no end in sight.
July 1st 1994, was D-Day for seniors. All of the dreadful cuts took place on that day. Seniors were outraged and they expressed their rage by writing letters, marching on the legislature and having rallies, still the Klein government took every opportunity to tell the world that seniors were happy with the cuts and changes they had made to seniors' benefits.
Julius Yankowsky, MLA, Alberta Liberal Critic for Seniors Issues wrote August, 94:
While the government hoped that ramming Bill 35: Alberta seniors' Benefit Act, through the Legislature would solve its problems with seniors, this is not the case. The outrage of seniors over the Alberta Seniors' Benefit will continue, not subside, over the coming years.
This is because Bill 35 has given the government the power to change the Senior's Benefit at will, at any time in the future. There is no requirement to consult with seniors or come back to the Legislature if the Klein government decides it wants to cut the Seniors' Benefit or eliminate any component. Changes can now be made through regulation by the Premier or the Minister.
Seniors should also know that by passing Bill 34: Social Housing Act, the government has deregulated seniors housing rents and forced seniors lodge to turn a profit. This will mean rent increase shocks for many seniors and could even force some seniors out of their lodges.
The Seniors Benefit form contains a requirement that seniors allow the provincial government to check their old income tax records and many are worried that this is a precursor to a means test. Given the fact that Alberta is following the New Zealand model of government cuts and New Zealand instituted a means test. I think this is worth getting worried about.

November 10, 94, Neil Reimer suggested that in two or three years a couple with an income of $32,000 can expect to pay up to $7,200 more per year. That would bring that couple's income down to $24,800. Several seniors at the Nov. 10 meeting feared that eye and dental services are next in line to be chopped from senior benefits.
December 14, 94, Bill Daly of Canadian Pensioners Concerned. Low-income seniors will be hard hit by $13 million in provincial cuts to eye care and dental programs that take effect Jan 1, 95. The cuts are the latest in a long line that have chopped seniors' benefits by more than 15% this year said Bill Daly. Health Minister Shirley McClellan announced cuts to the Extended Health Benefit Program will cut almost $17 million. Helen Wilson said another $30 million cut would be made from the Blue Cross drug benefit plan early in the new year. Coverage for eyeglasses were cut from the current maximum of $164 every three years to $93.50.
Today 40% of single women and 30% of single men over 65 are living at or below the poverty line. The poverty line for a single person in a major city was $15,500 after taxes in 2001, EJ
Feb. 15, 2004 (Liane Faulder) Over the past decade, the province has slashed funding for seniors' programs, says Liberal critic Laurie Blakeman. This makes it hard for people to plan for retirement because they don't know what extra costs government will eventually pass on to them. What I see happening is there is a level of middle income seniors who are becoming impoverished because they pay full freight for everything, says Blakeman, "They get no breaks."
This government has more than enough proof as to how their cuts are hurting the seniors of this province. If they cared, they would have long since rectified their cut and slash action. The only recourse we have is to elect a new government. It is said that 95% of seniors vote, let that be true. If we want to repair the damage the Conservatives have caused to our great province over these last 10 years we need to vote this destructive government OUT!

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