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

Health Care Premiums Make No Sense 

The following letter to our Premier was sent February 6, 2004 by COSA (see below). It supports the position of the Senior’s Action and Liaison Team as expressed in this letter to the Premier of January 30, 2004. If any of these letters to the Premier are answered by the Premier or one of his staff they will be posted here.

February 6, 2004

Hon. Ralph Klein, Premier
Government of Alberta
#307 – 10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2B7

Dear Mr. Klein:

It is disappointing to the Coalition of Seniors’ Advocates Association (COSA) Board, members and supporters that your January 4, 2004 speech did not recognize the financial, social and health plight that seniors on fixed incomes are coping with because of the too far, too fast budget cuts to excellent pre 1993/94 seniors programs. Without going into detail, the 1993/94 and subsequent budget cuts have negatively affected the wellbeing of Alberta seniors. Fifty-seven percent of seniors have a gross annual income of $20,000 or less, many below $15,000. Only eight percent of seniors have a gross annual income of $40,000 or more.

The Alberta Seniors and Special Needs Assistance programs are a detriment and do not begin to match the basic financial needs of low income seniors. The ASB Program, which is income tested, discriminates because if a senior’s income is even $10.00 over the threshold amount, he/she does not qualify. Meanwhile, medium income seniors are falling between the cracks. The Alberta Advantage is the Alberta seniors’ disadvantage. As you may recall, before the 1993/94 budget cuts, you personally stated that seniors would not be affected.

To begin repaying the financial shortfalls affecting seniors, we ask that you start by eliminating Alberta Health Care Premiums for all Albertans.


1. Only Alberta and British Columbia residents pay health care premiums that are in reality a tax. Alberta does not have a sales tax, however, Albertans pay an increasing number of user fees in lieu of taxes.

2. One of the reasons that senior’s financial benefits were cut was to help eliminate the annual deficits. The deficits have been eliminated and the Government’s estimated surplus for the first quarter of 2004 is well over $2 billion. It is time to partially reimburse seniors directly by eliminating AHC premiums. This would be a truly visible tax relief.

3. AHC premiums are a regressive tax that particularly affects low and middle income Albertans.

4. AHC premiums are inequitable whereby some Albertans pay, some do not. Keep in mind that Albertans contribute to the taxes that pay the premiums of Members of the Legislative Assembly, provincial employees, etc.

5. Within the framework of the Canada Health Act, Albertans must receive comprehensive, universal, portable and accessible health care even if they do not pay premiums.

6. Elimination of AHC premiums would signify a legacy of your government in next year’s centennial celebration.

Finally, plan ahead for the future retirees. Rather than cutting support for education, health and seniors’ programs, consider increasing revenue. One superb source would be to increase the oil and gas royalties which you, when Energy Minister, cut the levels under the Lougheed and Getty governments.

We look forward to your personal written reply.

Yours sincerely,

Jerry Pitts
Chairman, COSA

Cc: Dr. Raj Pannu, MLA
Dr. Ken Nicol, MLA
Ralph’s World Website
COSA Website

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