CARP Nova Scotia Chapter Budget Reaction

“If this is an election budget, why has the government forgotten who actually voted for them?” — CARP Nova Scotia reacts to NS Budget.

Older Worker Retraining          

Some of the expenditures in the Budget are of money that is coming from the Federal Government so it not new dollars from the Province but will provide new benefits for some seniors.  Two examples are the $940,000 for “Targeted Initiative for Older Worker Program which raises the eligibility age for retraining from 54 to 64 years of age. In CARP’s opinion, cutting off a person’s eligibility for retraining at 65 years of age is unfair and, in fact, outright ageism.  Many seniors must work after the age of 65 and need retraining to continue to be productive for many more years. The 64 age cap is unacceptable.

Home Support and Nursing, the Caregiver Benefit and Wheelchair program.

Another item where the money is actual coming from the Federal Government is the $14.4 million dollars listed in the budget for “Home Support and Nursing, the Caregiver Benefit and Wheelchair program”.  Officials agreed that this is money funneled from the Federal Government and not new Nova Scotia dollars.  And these increases will not provide any new programs or services but will simply keep up with the budget accesses that were incurred in the previous years.

 Seniors Pharmacare

That here is no more money being budgeted for seniors’ pharmacare is not surprise since no changes are expected until next year.  The 3 million dollars reduced savings for some seniors quoted in the budget is welcome by low income seniors, but is a drop in the bucket towards the real need.

In addition, specialized drugs are being reduced by $1 million yet the Health Minister said last week, he was concerned that because there had been no increase in pharmacare premiums, there would not be enough money for new, special drugs.

CARP continues to encourage the Province to push the Federal Government for action on a National Pharmacare Plan. That is the only way to ensure that all Canadians can access needed medications regardless of income and postal code.

Increase in Income Assistance

The $20 a month increase in monthly payments for those on Income Assistance, many of who are seniors, is welcome. But the $240 a year more does not raise the recipients’ income to anywhere near what the Low Income Level should be for them to live appropriately in an expense province like Nova Scotia.           There was nothing in the Nova Scotia Budget or Government Business Plan that would create a clear pathway to retirement security with the goal of ensuring that no one faces poverty in old age.

Mental Health

Mental health issues are a growing concern for those of us working with Seniors.  More and more, CARP is hearing how isolation and low income is creating mental health problems for seniors.  CARP was very disappointed that mental health spending was moved to the DHA (what will that movement cost?) but no new funds were directed to the problem.

 Department of Seniors

Although the 50+ population in Nova Scotia is growing faster than any other demographic, the Provincial Government has not returned the Department of Seniors staffing  to 9 where it was a few years ago.  There are still only 7 staff members.  5 are in Administration and 2 are in Program. Although two of the administrators are actively  involved in a good deal of program and senior service activities, it is concerning that the Province with the highest percentage of seniors in the country does not have more staff dedicated to them. There is also no increase in the budget for grants to seniors groups in support of local programing…programs that often deliver needed services at a much lower cost than when delivered by the government itself.

CARP Nova Scotia believes this is totally insufficient to meet the expanding needs of our seniors. We are coming to believe that the true concerns and issues for seniors in our Province are being ignored.  The Government seems to now recognize we exist in huge numbers (an improvement over just a few years ago) and they seem to know that almost 70% of seniors actually vote, but it is still not “hearing” us or dealing constructively with seniors’ concerns and suggestions.

No Mention in Budget of Dementia Strategy

After great promises and consultations on a Dementia Strategy, there is no new money – in fact hardly a mention – of the vaunted “one of the first in Canada” Dementia Strategies.  Very disappointing to CARP members and their families.

Additional observations

CARP is very much that rather than increase the budget to employ more doctors, physician fees are being reduced by $635000.

What will be the effect of Long Term Care is being reduced by $3million.

The Department of Health, overall is basically keeping the status quo for operations – if they can, that will be a miracle.

CARP does give credit to the government for the tobacco tax increase…a proven way to reduce smoking for all ages.

But gaming revenues are another source of increased revenue. CARP continues to be concerned that that money to a larger extent than most people realize             comes from lonely seniors who end up at VLT machines or casinos.

Finally

Seniors will find no joy in this budget and will wonder what happened to all the pre-election promises. If this is an election budget, it is hard to see where               the government expects to engage seniors with it.

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CARP Nova Scotia (formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons) is an 8000+ member chapter of CARP Canada, a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to a “New Vision of Aging for Canada” promoting social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. Our mandate is to promote and protect the interest, rights and quality of life for Nova Scotians as we age.

 Contact:

Bill VanGorder, Chair     CARP Nova Scotia Chapter

(902) 497-8073            [email protected]

 

 

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