Liberals hide $10 million in extra Pharmacare fees for seniors

January 28, 2016

Documents released today show the McNeil government intends to increase Seniors’ Pharmacare fees by $10 million or 20% next year, while cutting government funding by the same amount. The documents also suggest the program will become less sustainable by 2020 as a result of the changes announced by Health Minister Leo Glavine two weeks ago.

The information, which was previously kept secret by the Liberals, was made public following a request by NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald at the Provincial Public Accounts Committee yesterday.

“For the past two weeks Stephen McNeil and Leo Glavine have been dishonest with seniors about the reasons behind the changes to the Pharmacare program,” says MacDonald. “It’s clear that these changes were designed to foist $10 million in additional prescription drug costs onto the backs of seniors as part of Stephen McNeil’s austerity plan. To make matters worse, these changes are going to discourage hundreds, if not thousands, of seniors from entering the program over the next five years which is going to make it far less sustainable.”

MacDonald is also very concerned that seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) are no longer automatically exempt from paying premiums.

“Stephen McNeil’s ‘sunny’ talking points conceal the grim reality of what he’s doing to thousands of seniors with these changes,” says MacDonald. “If he was really concerned about helping low-income seniors he wouldn’t have removed the exemption for seniors receiving the GIS. On top of that middle-income seniors who have worked hard all their lives to save for their retirement are now being penalized with fee increases of up to almost 200%.”