Nova Scotia government bows to pressure by seniors and advocates to halt changes to its Seniors' Pharmacare Program.
Halifax (18 Feb. 2016) — Seniors, advocacy groups, labour unions and health coalitions have been organizing against the government of Nova Scotia's proposed changes to its Seniors' Pharmacare Program.
And it appears as though they've won!
Nova Scotia planned to increase premium rates and decrease its portion of co-payment
In a memo sent to seniors', the government indicated that it intended to change the flat rate of $424 for health premiums to a sliding scale rate based on income. The rate could be as high as $1,200 per year. It also said that the government would also reduce the copayment amount for drugs from 30 per cent to 20 per cent, up to a maximum of $382 per year.
The memo caused confusion and concern for thousands of seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes and would have a difficult time adjusting to major cost changes.
Province backtracks on changes
On February 18, the Nova Scotia government announced, in a press release, that it would be halting a planned premium increase with the maximum premium payment remaining at the curretn rate of $424 a year per person.
The government also said that seniors on a guaranteed income supplement will continue to be exempt from paying premiums and the co-payment will remain at 30 per cent per prescription to a maximum of $382 per year.
McNeill acknowledges lack of consultation with seniors over pharmacare changes
In its press release, Premier Stephen McNeill admits that "seniors told us these changes were too much, too soon — our actions had unintended consequences. We have listened."
"We will consult with seniors from one end of the province to the other to ensure their thoughts are heard before we make changes in the future."
Stopping premium increases not enough, Canada needs national pharmacare program
The Nova Scotia Citizens' Health Care Network was one of the groups fighting the changes. “Seniors across the province can feel more at ease knowing with certainty that premiums for pharmacare will not go up this year,” says Kyle Buott, Provincial Coordinator of the Health Coalition.
"This is good news for people across Nova Scotia," said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "But the reversal is also a recognition of the power that seniors in Canada have to effect change. We need to bring that power to the national stage and work with the provincial governments to pressure the federal government to enact a national pharmacare program."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE