The Alberta NDP continues to demand the Alberta Government stop charging Albertans extra fees for turning 75 years old.
In 2020, the government made changes to physician compensation policies that no longer allowed doctors to bill the government for their seniors' driver medical exams, which are mandatory for Albertans at age 75, age 80, and every two years after that.
Previously, the cost of the exams was covered. Now, about 45,000 seniors every year have to foot a bill that typically ranges anywhere from $85 to $150 for the exam, estimates NDP officials.
NDP seniors critic Lori Sigurdson believes requiring mandatory exams is appropriate, but is considered of the financial impact upon seniors.
"When seniors are on fixed incomes and we have record high inflation, it's very difficult for many seniors. It's a very important thing to be able to drive and have that freedom and independence, so the UCP are creating much more hardship for seniors."
Mobility is essential for seniors living independently, she says.
"If you're living in your own home you have to go get groceries, you have to go to your medical appointments, and certainly socially, it's important to be connected with family and friends. If you don't have that access to your vehicle anymore because it's just too costly with these medical exams not being covered then it makes it harder to live independently. The seniors want to live independently but it seems like the UCP are putting up more and more barriers for them to be able to do that."
She says seniors have been expressing frustration over this and other rising costs being passed along by the government. She says the government continues to turn seniors' dreams of spending their later years in comfort into a nightmare.
Sigurdson points out the government has also kicked tens of thousands of Albertans off of the seniors' drug plan, eliminated the role of a dedicated seniors advocate, de-indexed the Alberta Seniors’ Benefit, and cut funding for seniors housing.
They've also reduced funding for games organized by Alberta 55 Plus, which is dedicated to promoting lifelong fitness through active living.