04/22/2015 04:20 EDT | Updated 07/17/2015 02:59 EDT

Seniors say New Brunswick premier breaking promise to protect seniors' assets

FREDERICTON - The head of a group representing seniors in New Brunswick says a decision by the provincial government to include the savings of seniors when determining their ability to pay for nursing home care is "a nightmare."

Cecile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents Rights, said seniors are ready to fight the announcement in the provincial budget that the savings and investments of seniors will be included in the assessments for nursing home care.

"I can't believe for the life of me that this government is doing this when they didn't campaign on it," Cassista said on Wednesday. "If they had campaigned on it, they never would have got elected."

Cassista said Premier Brian Gallant told her group's annual meeting last year in Moncton that if his party formed government, it would not touch the assets of seniors.

Cassista said seniors have worked hard for their savings and government should not be trying to take it from them. She said her group has been flooded with calls and emails from angry seniors.

For the last two days, the Opposition has used question period in the legislature to ask Gallant to confirm what his comments were to the group last year, however Gallant said he'll only clarify his comments if there is a recording or notes of what he said.

"We don't record our meetings, but certainly we have our minutes and we had over 100 people at that meeting and there's enough people who heard him say it," Cassista said.

Gallant didn't speak to reporters Wednesday, but Energy Minister Don Arseneault said the party's platform makes no promise not to touch seniors' assets when determining ability to pay for long-term care.

"If you can find me anywhere in that platform where we broke that commitment, please show it to me, and I would challenge the Opposition to do the same thing," Arseneault said outside the legislature.

Arseneault said the government's decision will only impact 13 per cent of the wealthiest seniors in the province, and the government has no plans to take the assets or homes away from seniors.