ALBERTA

Alberta Seniors Drug Program: Protesters Ordered Out Of Alberta Health Minister's Office

01/17/2014 09:58 EST | Updated 03/19/2014 05:59 EDT
EDMONTON - A group of Alberta seniors that had camped out at the health minister's constituency office in Edmonton to demand a meeting on the provincial seniors' drug program has been ordered out.

The demonstrators showed up Thursday seeking a talk with Fred Horne and Premier Alison Redford, with the intention to stay until their request was met.

Bill Moore-Kilgannon, a spokesman for the demonstrators, says that changed when Horne's chief of staff called police, who showed up overnight and ordered them to leave.

The protesters say the Alberta government is planning to eliminate the seniors’ drug program and replace it with a means-tested system.

Liberal leader Raj Sherman told said he understands why seniors in the province are taking such extreme measures, calling the move to overhaul drug coverage for seniors bad public policy, a precursor to private health care, and a tax on the sick and the elderly.

"This plan is an attack on seniors, the very same people who built this province, the ones who worked hard all their lives and paid their taxes" said Sherman, still a practicing emergency room doctor, adding the real solution to the problem is a public drug plan.

"If we better manage government, if we better manage health care, there is enough money in the system to afford this.

"In fact, instituting this will save money in health care because it will mean more seniors having access to treatment, which will mean fewer elderly visits to the emergency room, fewer needing extended care and fewer needing surgery."

On Thursday, the Alberta NDP called out the Tories in what they say is the government's lack of transparency on the issue.

“This PC government is extremely secretive. It has yet to announce any details about income thresholds or deductibles," said NDP health critic David Eggen.

"They need to stop causing anxiety for the people that helped build this province."

Matthew Grant, Horne's press secretary, says the minister had previously indicated that a Jan. 1 implementation date for seniors pharmacare had been pushed back to allow for more input.

-With Files from The Canadian Press

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