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

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Freddie's Diary - Article 8 

Freddie's Diary - Article 8

The province has buried a second report on the welfare of Alberta seniors', says Christine Lawrence, with the Alberta Council on Aging. The full report, obtained by 'The Journal' tells of angry seniors who have seen their living standards cut by up to 25% face eroding health services and other hardships. The Cumulative Impact Report was produced at the request of Premier Ralph Klein.

The full version from the 12-member provincially appointed council has 44 pages and contains seniors concerns as well as graphics and a summary of critical issues. All that was released was a two-page summary. It was attached to a Nov. 26th government release heralding a $14 million increase in senior's benefits. Shirley McClellan, the minister responsible for seniors, said Friday that she was unaware there was a full report.

"It's very disturbing that a government would take a report prepared and paid for with public funds and shelve it or hide it because it's embarrassing to them," said Grant Mitchell, Liberal Leader.

Klein said he doesn't know what happened to copies of the full report, but he suggested that the decision to release a summary may have been part of the government's ongoing efforts to cut down on use of paper. . February 23/97, Bonnyville, EJ.

SENIORS BENEFIT A STEP BACKWARD, Southam Newspapers, Vancouver/97
"The Seniors Benefit: A Flawed Proposal" is the report commissioned by CARP, written by Walter Kelm, retired former director of planning and development for CPP and a past director of the Treasury Board. "First they cut back billions and subsequently only restore millions to the program, then the spin doctors take over and say: "Judge us by the millions we've left in a program, not by the billions we've taken out." "Current seniors, who will continue to collect OAS, will lose their retirement income tax credit in 2001 - and that alone could lower their after-tax income by about $2000,"Kelm said.

The 300 000 member-strong CARP organization says that Ottawa must either change or scrap a new seniors benefit proposed for the year 2001. Lillian Morgenthau says the new income-tested benefit represents the latest of many attacks on seniors' incomes and the public should speak out. "This isn't a problem for seniors," argues the founder of the 13 year-old CARP, "Each time the government steals something from seniors it affects us all." The Canadians who will loose the most are people now in their 50s and the baby boomers," she said.

LIBERAL SURVEY says: 88% believe Premier Ralph Klein has not kept a 1993 promise to protect seniors. 76% identified extended benefits such as eyeglasses, dentures and dental work as the priority area to have funding reinstated. In the area of health, seniors surveyed said they were worried about early hospital discharge, waiting lists and understaffing of medical staff.

"I've heard this for the past three years," Klein told reporters. "This kind of Liberal fear-mongering is nothing new to me." Klein said lower-income Alberta seniors are better off today than they were three years ago. He called Alberta's programs "second to none." February/97, EJ.

SENIORS AREN'T BETTER OFF NOW. There's an electioneering myth being touted by our premier that seniors are better off now than in 1993. We pay $800 for medical premiums that we didn't pay before. Our house taxes have gone up $800 yearly because we lost our education tax exemption. Dental and eye benefits are about half of what they were in 1993. Also, prescription drug costs have increased to 30% as opposed to 20% before. User fees are erupting everywhere we go: Because of the drop in interest rates, seniors' incomes based on investments like GICs have dropped about 30%. Seniors used to be able to stay in hospital until nearly recovered. Now, they are sent home before adequate home care is verified. In 1993, I doubt a heart attack victim would have spent seven hours in an ambulance seeking emergency care in 3 hospitals before finally dying.

Could seniors be the prime targets in Klein's deficit reduction? You bet! Anna Harder, St. Albert.

SENIORS' CLOUT COULD SWING SEATS, March, 97 EJ. "I think the upper middle-class and the more well to do seniors will vote for the Conservatives. They haven't been hit so hard and they have a comfort zone." Vera Brown.

In 1997 there were roughly 97,000 senior citizens living in Edmonton. At any given time only 8% of seniors is well to do. That leaves 89,240 who are average to poor seniors. Traditionally there is a high voter turnout in the 65 and over age bracket. A survey done by the University of Alberta's Population Research Lab reveal that 65% of seniors would vote Conservative and only 15 % would vote Liberal?

If a survey was taken today (2004) just before an election what would it reveal? There would probably be more seniors living in Edmonton with about the same percentage of well-to-do seniors. After the past 10 years of fear, poverty, health care worries, waiting lists, and constant cuts to fixed income groups, would 65% of seniors still vote PC or would the majority of seniors consider it is time for change. Has fear, worry and pain become so normal that seniors consider these three conditions a have to have in order to let us know we are still alive? Or could it be possible that the majority of seniors living in Alberta today will seek change with a better future for our children.

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