Gerry Rogers Question Period (12.02.2013)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, today government is praising itself for sound fiscal management, last week for giving low-income seniors an extra six cents a day in tax benefit, yet we have more seniors slipping into poverty with the highest percentage in the country needing OAS and GIS. Growing numbers of seniors cannot afford housing. This is not prosperity.

I ask the minister: How many seniors are on the wait-list for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O’BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, to answer the hon. member’s question, we have reduced the wait time in Newfoundland and Labrador Housing down to about 800 on the wait-list across Newfoundland and Labrador, down from about 1,300 only a couple of years ago to this date.

In saying that, this government has invested in seniors in various programs heavily since 2004-2005 when we brought down our first Budget. As a matter of fact, 86 per cent of the people who avail of the Provincial Home Repair Program are seniors, Mr. Speaker. Also, there are 358 seniors who avail of the Home Modification Program, along with the rent supplement as well. There are also 5,556 units in the Province –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS:Mr. Speaker, the benefits for the Adult Dental Program was reduced this Budget. Seniors are calling my office in distress. They can only have their top or their lower dentures, or they need other dental work done and cannot. Seniors without teeth is not prosperity.

I ask the Minister of Health: Will she restore the Adult Dental Program so seniors can get the work done that they desperately need?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On several occasions last week I corrected the member opposite and I am going to do it again, Mr. Speaker. We have not reduced the Adult Dental Program. It was $6.7 million; it is still is $6.7 million. In no way have we reduced the program.

What we have done, Mr. Speaker, is we have tried to make it available to as many people as we possibly can in the Province. In doing that, we have offered up a different way of administering the program; but we certainly have not cut the program and people continue to avail of the program.

Thank you.

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