Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Ontario’s plans to expand its OHIP+ program to people over 65 years of age.
The new program means more than 4,400 prescription drugs will be available free of charge to everyone 65 and over. The proposal should make life more affordable for 2.6 million seniors and their families.
Beginning August 1, 2019, anyone aged 65 or older will no longer have to pay a deductible or co-payment. They would be able to present their eligible prescription and OHIP number at any Ontario pharmacy and receive their medication for free.
Earlier this year Ontario introduced OHIP+ Children and Youth Pharmacare, which made eligible prescription drugs free for everyone 24 and under. The new program should save adults 65 and over approximately $240 every year. Prescription drugs covered by this program include medications for cholesterol, hypertension, thyroid conditions, diabetes and asthma. “Everybody in this province, no matter their age, deserves the chance to lead healthy, happy lives,” Health Minister Dr. Helena Jaczek said at an appearance Tuesday.
Other measures focused more affordable for seniors in Ontario, including:
- The Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit introduced in 2017 and saving seniors up to $450 a year on travel costs
- $17 million per year to provide a high-dose flu vaccine free of charge to seniors, beginning in 2018-19
- A free shingles vaccination now available for roughly 850,000 seniors between the ages of 65 and 70, saving them an additional $170 and helping to keep them healthy
- Ontario’s leadership in achieving an enhanced Canada Pension Plan, which will result in greater retirement security for today’s workers
- Aging with Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors, released in November 2017.
In Monday’s throne speech, the Liberals promised to increase services for seniors choosing to live at home.
Throne Speech Focuses on “Care and Creating Opportunity”
The announcement comes a day after the Liberals’ throne speech that laid out the government’s agenda leading up to the 2018 election. It focused on 8 priorities including an increase to hospital budgets, and investing in infrastructure. “Our plan will relieve pressure on families by making it easier for people to care for themselves, and each other,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said.
Progressive Conservative (PC) Leader Doug Ford criticized the commitments to more spending. “Today, the Premier wrote a lot of cheques. Having looked at the finances, I can tell the people of Ontario that these cheques are going to bounce,” he said in a statement. Ford refused to say if his party would run a deficit.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath took on the entire Liberal mandate. “The fact of the matter is that after 15 years anything the Liberals really wanted to accomplish would already be done.” The Liberals have been in government since 2003. Horwath announced part of her party’s platform Sunday which include universal pharmacare, and dental care.
The 2018 Ontario budget is being presented on March 28, 2018. Election day is June 7, 2018.