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, August 04, 2004

Letter from Seniors United Now 

Posted here is an open letter sent to Premier Klein from Seniors United Now.

Hon. Ralph Klein,
Premier Government of Alberta
#307 - 10800 97th Ave.
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B7

July 21, 2004

SUBJECT: Open Letter to Hon. Ralph Klein, Premier of Alberta

Dear Premier Klein:

On Wednesday, June 16, 2004 the Edmonton Journal included an article which headlined "Seniors Issues Top Albertans’ Concerns". The article made specific reference to the government caucus members reporting that they are hearing a lot about the amount seniors have to pay to stay in their own homes.

Mr. Premier you were quoted as follows "The issue that came up the most was seniors. The concern was that those seniors who are not in care are finding it extremely expensive. Power, gas, property taxes, you name it, the general costs of living. We’re going to have to deal with that. That was the consensus."

Seniors United Now (SUN) is an organization devoted to assisting all Seniors in maintaining a reasonable standard of living. Its primary focus at this moment is to impress upon your government the need to restore benefits that were eliminated or reduced during the 1993 – 1994 years; when your government was imposing cut backs, roll backs and a general overall reduction in government expenditures.

In 1993/1994 your government imposed various reductions across a wide cross section of the population within the Alberta economy. Since that time there has been a general restoration or catching up of the reduced wages, fees and benefits to many groups except Seniors.

Seniors have not had benefits restored, there has been no catch up and as we are well aware the majority of Seniors are considered to be living on fixed income as they have little or no opportunity to increase their income. The items listed below are the most obvious areas impacted:

This adds up to a loss of disposable/discretionary income of $4,000 to $4,500 per Senior family per year and it is continuing to increase. Property taxes are increasing each year, automobile insurance has doubled in the last 5 years, all of this adds up to a substantial loss of discretionary spending, there is no room for social spending, vacations, just trying to stay in an owned residence is getting more difficult each year. Each year an increasing number of Seniors are being forced to arrange new or increased home financing, which is necessary in order to maintain a decent standard of living or simply retain their existing home.

There are approximately 325,500 Seniors over 65 years of age in Alberta, of these 56% are considered to be low income Seniors who according to your Government are receiving higher financial benefits today than in 1994. Your government is constantly pointing out what a good job they are doing for low income Seniors.Mr. Premier what are you going to do for middle income Seniors who are above the exemption level, the 143,000 or 44% who are above your means test level? These Seniors are not making $100,000 per year. The majority are in the $45,000 to $60,000 range and they are suffering a serious reduction in their standard of living.

Mr. Premier, there does not seem to be any ‘Alberta Advantage’ for the Seniors who built the foundation of the province so that others coming behind can build on it, have a better life and the opportunity to grow and prosper.

We as an organization are dedicated to restoring and improving living standards for Seniors. Seniors must now look towards those political entities that are supportive of our position. We will be urging the 325,500 citizens over 65 years of age and the 241,090 citizens between 55 and 64 to ask the politicians running for office to state their position relative to benefits for Seniors and vote accordingly upon hearing those answers.

This combined group of 575,500 Senior & near Senior Voters represents approximately 22.5% of the Alberta population. But more importantly, these numbers represent close to 60% of the ballots cast in the 2001 election.

We are organizing our membership of over 5,500 who are represented in every provincial constituency to work with other Seniors & other Seniors groups to support those candidates seeking office who support equitable treatment for Alberta Seniors, commencing with the restoration of lost benefits.

At the beginning of this letter we were pleased to acknowledge your seeming awareness that Seniors issues need serious attention. In closing we would say that we would be even more pleased to celebrate and congratulate your actions. What we need to know is what specific actions will your government take and when.

Ron Ellis
President SUN

cc: all MLAs

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