Op-ed: Liberals should halt changes to Seniors’ Pharmacare

February 8, 2016

Seniors in our province, who have worked hard all their lives to save for retirement, deserve to be treated fairly when it comes to their health care costs.

Unfortunately, a little over two weeks ago, Health Minister Leo Glavine stepped up to a podium and misled Nova Scotians about changes he was making to the Seniors’ Pharmacare program.

Hidden in the fine print was the fact that starting April 1, seniors in this province will pay $10 million more to access their prescription drug plans, while the Liberal government will pay $10 million less.

Of course, Leo Glavine didn’t share that information at his press conference. It was kept a secret and only disclosed two weeks later, after I made a request at the Provincial Standing Committee on Public Accounts. The Health Minister also failed to disclose the program could be less sustainable in five years because of his actions and that 14,000 low-income seniors in receipt of the Guaranteed Income Supplement must now pay premiums, having previously been exempt.

No, the Minister failed to mention all of that information. Just like he failed to mention that more than 40,000 middle-income seniors will see their premiums increase by between 15% and 200%. That’s not a typo, some people will see their rates rise from $424 to $1200, or $2400 for a couple.

It’s clear the McNeil government has shown a tremendous lack of respect to our seniors by trying to deceive them.

It’s for this reason that our NDP Caucus has called for a halt to the changes and that a full public consultation be held.

Approximately 120,000 Nova Scotians rely on this program for their prescription drugs. Don’t they deserve a chance to have their say, especially since Leo Glavine said on March 27, 2015 that as long as he was Health Minister “there won’t be an increase in premiums in Seniors’ Pharmacare”?

Nova Scotian seniors deserve better treatment from their government, especially when it comes to health care.

Maureen MacDonald
Nova Scotia NDP Leader