November 9th, 2022

Houston leaves families waiting as fall sitting wraps

HALIFAX – Tim Houston will wrap up the fall sitting of the legislature this week having done little to help working families and seniors struggling to access health care and with the skyrocketing cost of living.

Houston pushed through a retroactive $24-million corporate tax cut but has failed to provide needed help to families and seniors who can’t afford to pay for their medications, put gas in their cars, or food in their fridge.

NDP Leader Claudia Chender proposed much-needed relief by temporarily removing pharmacare fees to help families and seniors.

“When people are living on a pension or fixed income the extreme increases in the cost of food, gas, and other essentials makes it very difficult to keep up,” said Gary MacLeod, chairperson of the ACE (Advocates for the Care of the Elderly) Team. “Medication is an essential part of the healthcare system, not a luxury for those who can afford it. Seniors need to be supported so they don’t have to choose between prescriptions and food because of the lack of ability to afford the medicine they need. The government has the ability to address this issue and the NDP are offering a positive way forward.”

Seniors are some of the hardest hit by this economic crisis and New Democrats have their back. In addition to removing pharmacare fees, Chender proposed making high-dose flu vaccines free for seniors so they don’t have to pay out of pocket for a vaccine that Public Health says is recommended to keep them healthy this winter.

“People are being forced to choose between buying food or taking their medicine,” said Chender. “The Premier has the ability to pause these fees on prescriptions and give people the relief they need. In a moment of such economic uncertainty, forcing people to go without the medicines they need is not right.”

In response to multiple questions about the rising number of people experiencing homelessness and the increasing cost of groceries, Premier Houston has finally agreed to look into possibly expanding who is eligible for programs like the Heating Assistance Rebate Program and Seniors Care Grant. But with temperatures falling, people need immediate support, now.

“People are using credit cards to pay for the basics and interest rates keep going up,” said Chender. “This is hurting people across the province. Working families who, a year ago, were able to get by on their monthly paycheque now find themselves coming up short. The Premier could follow Newfoundland and PEI’s lead and provide direct support for families. He could change the eligibility thresholds for existing programs. They have tools to help and they continue not to use them. Everyday families are being left on their own and paying a heavy price.”