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, June 02, 2004

Freddie's Diary - Article 19 

The latest in a series of articles taken from Freddie's Diary.

Cathy Lord, March 23, 2002, EJ

Alberta Council on Aging Executive Secretary, Peggy Fleet says, "seniors are very angry, very upset and a lot of them are scared about what the budget is going to mean to them." "They are getting hit from every direction. It is going to be absolutely devastating to senior single women,. A lot of them don't have company pensions so they are living off the basic Canada Pension, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement."

About 82,000 seniors will pay a 30% health care premium hike despite a promise from the government in 1996 that premiums for seniors would not rise. The budget scrapped the $24 million Extended Health Benefits program, which covered some eyeglass and dental costs for seniors regardless of income. About $9.2 million will be transferred to the Seniors Department for a new benefit program targeted at low income seniors. Regional health authorities will pick up the rest.

New Democrat Leader Raj Pannu said there are 70 hikes in taxes and user fees in the budget, which "imposes a terrible burden on seniors and average families. The government snatched away seniors' eye and dental benefits, while public subsides to the horse racing industry doubled and millionaire owners of professional hockey teams benefit from a special tax. Talk about twisted priorities," said Pannu.

Details of the new benefit have yet to be worked out, but only people who are eligible for the Alberta seniors Benefit program will be covered, said department spokeswoman, Jan Berkowski. Annual income thresholds for that program are $18,440 or less for single seniors and $27,925 or less for couples.

Liberal senior's critic Laurie Blakeman said the government is risking seniors' long term health by pushing them into poverty and whittling away benefits.

Coverage ends March 31, 2002
• All seniors were eligible regardless of income
• About 160,000 seniors and their dependents used the program every year
• Provided 25 to 30% coverage for services such as routine dental care, eyeglasses (once every three years), dentures (once every five years) and denture relines (once every two years)
• $24 million program, of which two thirds was spent on denture and dental services and one-third on optical
• New $9.2 million program will assist only low-income seniors eligible for the Alberta Seniors Benefit program.

March, 2002, Jim Fraser, EJ

So Ralph Klein has hit seniors again despite a previous cabinet decree that health-care premiums would not rise for seniors. In the previous slashing, seniors took the brunt of cutbacks. Elimination of rent subsidies and increased prescription costs amounted to a major decrease in seniors' net income.

We now face a 30% increase in premiums and elimination of other benefits. How are we going to cope with that? Ralph recently gave himself a large increase in salary and separation allowance. To hell with seniors, let them suffer.

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