Posted on Feb 5, 2020

Kenney attacks seniors' health care to pay for corporate handout

Premier Jason Kenney will devastate seniors’ healthcare by kicking 60,000 Albertans off the Seniors Drug Benefit Program, laying off more than 2,300 Registered Nurses, downgrading seniors care beds, closing dozens of rural emergency rooms and selling off public long-term care facilities to pay for his $4.7-billion corporate handout.

“These brutal cuts will impose cruel hardships on Alberta seniors and their families,” said Rachel Notley, Leader of the NDP Official Opposition. “Jason Kenney is taking money out of seniors’ pockets, forcing them to travel further to receive a lower level of care, and laying off the nurses who care for them.”

“When I hear Minister Tyler Shandro tell these older Albertans they can go and pay $800 a year or more to purchase a different drug coverage plan, I think about how many of our friends and neighbours won’t be able to afford the medication they need to manage serious chronic illness,” Notley said.

The recent Ernst and Young review of Alberta Health Services calls for a $322-million cut to Registered Nursing, which means the layoff of 2,325 RNs (Opportunity W7, page 44, Final Report), the immediate downgrading of acute care and long-term care beds containing a senior Albertan (Recommendation 20, page 89), the consolidation and reconfiguration of 77 rural emergency rooms (Recommendation 24, pages 98 and 107) and the sale of CapitalCare and CareWest facilities despite not realizing any operational savings (Recommendation 21, page 89).

Premier Jason Kenney has accepted all of these recommendations.

The National Association of Federal Retirees joined Notley Wednesday to call on Premier Jason Kenney to reverse his plan to attack public healthcare and kick 60,000 Albertans off their drug coverage plan. The Association is a non-partisan organization and the largest national advocacy association representing active and retired members of the federal public service, Canadian Armed Forces, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and retired federally appointed judges, as well as their partners and survivors. There are 13,000 association members living in Alberta.

“The needs of Alberta’s seniors are diverse and require support from the provincial government,“ said Frederick Brick, district director for the National Association of Federal Retirees. “The upcoming and proposed changes to the Coverage for Seniors program will not produce the intended results. 

“Instead, it will see health care costs shifted to other areas of the system. I urge the Alberta government to protect health care for older Albertans by reversing the decision to end non-senior dependent coverage under the Coverage for Seniors program and to abandon the idea to introduce income testing for the program,” Brick said.

Notley reinforced Brick’s call to reverse cuts to the drug plan.

“These choices reveal the moral values of Jason Kenney,” Notley said. “He would rather give a $4.7-billion corporate handout to profitable corporations than provide medication and healthcare to Alberta seniors and their families.”