(5 April 2012)
Keeping the Saskatchewan Advantage for Seniors
Last week in this space, I pointed out some of the initiatives that your Saskatchewan Party government brought forward in this year’s budget that were targeted for children, families and students. This week I’d like to discuss a different group of people and how they stand to benefit from this budget. This is a group of people that have worked hard all of their lives and built this province to what it is today – our seniors.
It is true that the cap on prescription drug costs is rising from $15 to $20. This is the first increase in this program since 2007 and was necessary to keep pace with rising drug costs and higher demand for this program as our population ages. Since 2007, we have added approximately 400 new drugs to the Saskatchewan Drug Plan. The government still covers 70% of the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. Additional support programs are in place for low-income seniors.
When our government came to office we learned that the Seniors Income Plan had not been increased in 16 years, this was not acceptable. We doubled this benefit for low-income seniors by the end of our first term, but there is still more to do. This is why we promised to increases this plan by $50 a month this year, with a further increase of $10 a month in each of the next three years. By the end of 2014, this will increase to $270 per month; triple what the SIP benefit was when we formed government in 2007. Another promise made, and kept.
During last year’s election campaign, we promised to introduce a Seniors Personal Care Home Benefit. This benefit will assist low-income seniors with the cost of privately licensed personal care homes. Often, seniors face care home costs that are higher than their income. In this budget, we will address that problem by introducing a monthly supplement that is the difference between the senior’s income and $1,800.
During our first term in government, we often heard from seniors who felt they paid a disproportionate share of the cost of education through their property taxes. We addressed this reducing the amount everyone pays in education property tax. Mill rates have decreased from an average of 22 to 9.5. That means a cut by over half.
In conclusion, I am pleased to announce the return of a very popular program that only seniors can take advantage of. For the entire month of May, seniors can ride anywhere on the STC bus network for only $10 one-way. Spring in Saskatchewan is a beautiful season to enjoy time with friends and families in our great province –by providing this service we give seniors an opportunity to do just that.
Past MLA Reports