NDP Leader demands action for seniors
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) questioned government’s commitment to seniors in two separate areas. With this budget, people in receipt of income support will no longer be forced to apply for their Canada Pension benefits as soon as they turn 60.
Michael wanted to know when the government will actually bring that policy into effect. She also had concerns about those who have already been penalized by having to draw their CPP earlier than age 65, and wondered whether there are plans to help those people because of the reduced benefits they will suffer; she has heard, for example, from someone who turned 60 just last month and applied for CPP according to government policy, and now faces a reduced CPP benefit for the rest of his life.
Michael also drew attention to the predicament of seniors who are faced with high costs for prescription drugs. The provincial prescription drug card is tied to a person being in receipt of the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement payment. A person whose income rises above that threshold abruptly loses not only the GIS payment, but their provincial prescription card as well.
“Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Health and Community Services immediately stop tying the 65 Plus eligibility to a federal program in which the income ceiling is below the poverty line?” Michael asked in the House.
Other seniors with marginally higher incomes are not eligible for the prescription plan at all, and Michael renewed her call for a universal program to make things fairer for seniors on tight budgets.