Cuts to Benefits or Pharmacy Care Would Hurt Seniors First and Worst
TORONTO, October 29, 2009 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Older Canadians Network / Alliance of Seniors (Network/Alliance) is warning the Ontario government that any cuts to the prescription drug program would disproportionately affect the province's senior citizens.
Some news reports have quoted the Premier and Minister of Finance saying that priorities such as health will not be targeted for spending cuts, and will remain "sustainable". But other news reports quoted the executive officer of the drug program, Helen Stevenson, saying that payments to pharmacists are being targeted.
"Pharmacy is health care, and it's health care seniors as a group depend on more than anyone else," said Jack Pinkus, President of the Network/Alliance. "We are very concerned about this. If the government goes ahead with the cuts they are discussing, it would hurt seniors first and worst. If you cut funding to the pharmacists, it will mean cuts to pharmacy services for seniors. It's that simple."
Pinkus, a retired pharmacist himself, said nearly all his organization's senior members rely on their pharmacies to help maintain their health. "It's about older people taking a number of different medicines, who need special instructions and drug packaging. It's about people who can't drive getting their prescriptions delivered to their home. It's about people with diabetes and breathing problems needing extra help managing their conditions. If the government cuts funding for pharmacists, how can they assure us that these services will still be available?" he said.
The Network/Alliance is urging the government not to cut drug program funding for either drug benefits or services, since both are needed to keep seniors healthy and avoid health complications that can lead to hospitalization and even greater healthcare costs.
Founded in 1993, the Network/Alliance is a non-partisan, non-profit coalition of community and seniors' organizations which advocates for policies of benefit to present and future generations of Canadians.