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, August 23, 2004

Freddie's Diary - The Final Installment 

Over the last several months Rose Bradley has reviewed the newspaper clippings provided to her by Freddie Chorney. She asked me to edit her 21st and final posting as she thought it might be too long. Well I didn't change a word. In this last article Rose has captured pretty well everything that is wrong with the Klein government when it comes to the treatment of seniors in Alberta. If you missed reading Rose's other postings, you owe it to yourself to read this one.

Thanks Rose for your contribution to Ralph's World. We look forward to hearing from you again as we ramp up for a fall election. - John Slow

Freddie J. Chorney thoughtfully clipped news items regarding the plight of seniors from newspapers over the past 12 years. Because he shared his work with me, I have been able to bring you very important information regarding what has happened to senior's and to senior's benefits since 1992. If you have not been reading all along, just tap into the archives that have been provided for you by Ralph's World.

By 2003, a whole lot of seniors began to feel the pinch of poverty. Seniors who thought they had planned well and would be OK in their retirement found that was not the case. They were not quite sure what benefits they had lost, but all of a sudden they realized they were not covered for many items that once was included in their seniors health care benefit package.

Instant poverty came as a big shock for those seniors who were not far enough below the poverty line to qualify for benefits. The big government spin-doctor propaganda machine talked seniors into believing that the deficit was mainly their fault. Seniors believed the Klein machine when they told us that giving up our benefits was temporary, benefits would be returned to us. Seniors lost sight of what was rightfully theirs and began to beg and beg and beg for their benefits back. All seniors at and above the poverty line were abandoned. The PC government has no intentions in giving seniors back any of their benefits. If they do for the sake of votes, seniors better be prepared to either loose the benefits soon after election or never receive what is promised; - like in 2001.

The consensus is that a senior couple lost between $3,500 to $4,000 a year from their meager fixed income. Think of that over ten years. In addition, the PC Government deregulated electricity and natural gas, which in turn doubled our monthly heating and light bills, in many cases that amounted to approximately $1,400 per year. Then our insurance went sky high and property taxes keep going up. How many Albertans of any age could afford to have $5000 deducted from their income every year without getting a midnight job.

Most seniors have paid taxes in this province all of their working lives. Most are still paying income taxes, property taxes and GST. Our income from CPP, OAS and RRSP are not handouts, neither is health care because we have paid dearly for all of this. The taxes we pay on OAS are doubly taxed because we bought the OAS with net income. Does anyone remember that OAS was a separate tax until the federal government hid it in General Revenue. Basically seniors have paid for the benefits we had back in 1991/92, the benefits that were enjoyed by seniors then were not a gift that the PC government would like us to believe. The upshot was they took our benefits and they also took our taxes and premiums and left us with precious little.

Back in the late 80 and early 90 the PC government promised that the list of benefits that were in place at the time was written in stone. We could plan our retirement on those facts and many of us did and so did the companies we worked for at the time. Back then society had empathy and respect for seniors.

Then starting in 1992 Ralph's Rustlers began to cut and slash. In 1993 everybody paid Alberta Health premiums, but not to worry, they would never raise the cost of those premiums. We know they raised the premiums by 30%. They promised us home care, they promised they would not raise the cost of long-term care but they raised that by 15% and on the heels of that they raised the cost of long term care again by over 40% on August 1, 2003. They took away our vision care, hearing aids, dental and now according to a letter to the editor, foot care is not covered either. Ms. Lavender paid $1400 for a bunion operation.

Remember when the PC MLAs did away with their Cadillac pensions. Big Headlines, they were giving us an example. They told seniors, if they could give up their pensions then the seniors should be willing to give up a portion of their livelihood. Now we see that our friend Stan Woloshyn and a number of his buddies will walk away with $500,000 upon quitting their jobs? This of course is in addition to the over $7,000 that has been paid into their RRSPs and they did not have to match that sum either. I am positive that most senior couples, with both of them working all their working lives, were not able to put away $500,000 toward their retirement.

Since 1992/93 Albertans have given Ralph Klein's government Carte Blanc three times in a row. When will we wake up? In 2001, this government bought our votes with rebates. They promised that once we got over the hump the price of natural gas and electricity would be greatly reduced. Now they are promising to remove Alberta Health premiums, and they might add to our dental and vision care. And they are going to add 30,000 more seniors to their below the poverty line list. Isn't that nice?

How dare they hold us hostage with their promises. Since when is a government able to negotiate votes with our own benefits. Those benefits that they took away over the past 12 years belong to us then and they belong to us now. What makes them think they can buy votes with seniors' property.

Seniors benefits must be universal. Remember that the majority of seniors have been and right now are living below the poverty line (56%). Only maybe 9% have incomes over $40,000 a year. Many of these seniors are responsible for a spouse who is in long term care, the upkeep and care of their grandchildren and/or children. There is no excuse why all seniors should not be included in all seniors' benefits. All seniors pay taxes and the very few that have an income of over $44,000 lose their OAS income to claw back.

How often do you hear seniors and others saying that they have nobody else to vote for. This is the biggest cop out I ever heard. Certainly there are other parties to vote for. At the Ralph's World website there is a link to all other opposition parties. You have only to tap into those sites to find out what they promise to do for seniors. These parties haven't lied to us - they deserve a chance. The PC Government is hard pressed to tell the truth about anything.

Almost all of Ralph's cabinet people have been in office since 1993 and some of them have been there before that, going back to 1989. The point is that these people showed us how good they were at tearing our province apart, These people know well how to cut and slash but they have not shown us that they know how to build. How they plan to replace infrastructure and repair rotting schools. They have not shown us that they know how to manage Alberta's present situational environment. They say they will ask us what to do. That ploy is old enough to be covered with moss. Why would they do what we say now when they never have before. This is a very tired worn out government. It is time they were retired.

According to the Ralph Klein PC Government, they have paid down the debt or they have put the money aside to do so when they are able to make the last payment. I hope Albertans will never forget, in the beginning they paid down the debt on the backs of seniors, the disabled, the sick, and people below the poverty line. All of the weak in this province were hit harder than anyone else. The poor and the weak had to pay first and they should have had their benefits returned first before anyone else. And never forget that most everyone who suffered rollbacks had their pay returned while seniors have not. Only those seniors living in dire poverty received government help over the past 12 years.

This government, in their wisdom, threw more seniors into poverty than any other government within memory. Now they are swimming in money and they are still very reluctant to return our benefits. Once again they want to consider who deserves what. They want to have seniors benefits tied to income. Do these people not realize the Oil riches belong to all Albertans, even seniors. If Big Business Oil Companies deserve a gift of a tax holiday for so many years (1% as opposed to 25%?) why is it so impossible to think of giving all seniors back their benefits.

Consider all these things before you go to the polls this November. Please vote, take your brother, your sons and daughters and grand children who are old enough to vote. Point them in the right direction and let them do the rest

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