“I’m worried that as costs increase we will see more and more seniors that can’t afford the medication they need to stay healthy.” – Wayne Gates
A Special to Niagara At Large by Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates
Posted March 3rd, 2016 on Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com .
On Thursday, February 25th, the Ontario Liberal budget nearly doubled the cost that most seniors will pay for the medication they need to stay healthy.
This happened without consultation, without asking seniors and without any warning. That’s not right.
An average senior in Ontario needs 8 different kinds of medication, 1 in 3 need more than 10 medications and most are on fixed incomes.
Yet as a result of Kathleen Wynne’s latest budget, a senior making $19,500 will see their Ontario Drug Benefit deductible almost double and they’ll pay a dollar more for each prescription they get filled, starting this summer.
For seniors on a fixed income these costs are going to add up fast and with second highest percentage of seniors across the province living in Niagara that means a big impact on our communities.
For months, I’ve been talking with people across our community about the impact of Kathleen Wynne’s cuts to healthcare, whether that is the 1200 nurses who have lost their jobs or the cuts to physician’s services, and what this is going to mean for people across Ontario.
From Niagara-on-the-Lake to Niagara Falls to Fort Erie and all the communities in between, seniors have told me how carefully they have to plan their budgets. Increasing drugs costs will throw that planning into further chaos.
Now, I’m worried that as costs increase we will see more and more seniors that can’t afford the medication they need to stay healthy. They’ll be left to choose between food on their table or the medication they need.
And when people don’t take their medication it leads to declining health and complications down the road. That means more seniors in hospitals, waiting even longer for care, instead of living in good health at home.
During the most recent campaign, the Premier once made a point to say “the reward for a lifetime of hard work should not be poverty in your golden years.” But now the campaign is over, it’s seniors on fixed incomes who are going to be paying the price.
Kathleen Wynne thinks this plan to increase drug costs looks good, but she needs to understand that the people who will find it even harder to pay for the medication they need, are our parents, our grandparents, and our friends. They’re the people who built this province and they deserve respect.
Andrea Horwath and Ontario’s New Democrats have been standing up for seniors by pushing hard to ensure they have access to the prescription drugs they need, when they need them. We won’t stand on the side lines while Liberal’s gut our healthcare system.
We should be expanding prescription drug coverage and protecting universal access to health care, not cutting back the coverage that seniors need. Now is the time for all of us to stand up together, to protect the health of Ontario’s seniors.
I hope you will join us.
Wayne Gates in the New Democratic Party Member of Provincial Parliament for the Riding of Niagara Falls, which includes Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie.
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