Affordable housing is a key concern for local seniors following the release of the provincial budget.
Local senior and vice-president of Seniors United Now Dick Tansey said the biggest concern he has after looking at the provincial budget is affordable housing for seniors.
“They are cutting back and reducing funding when it comes to the housing management bodies,” Tansey said.
In St. Albert, the Homeland Housing society provides affordable housing to seniors. Although the society was not available for comment by press time, Tansey said he worries the society's funding could be impacted by the changes.“That's going to cut back, I believe, on availability. And so that's going to impact seniors, certainly (it) is going to impact families,” Tansey said.
Tansey said housing for seniors is a major issue and that in St. Albert alone, there are around 350 single seniors who are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.
“We did a report on senior housing just within the last couple of years ... And we're focusing on what we call seniors in the gap, so seniors who are paying high rents, more than 30 per cent of their income and they have no option to go anywhere else because of availability of affordable housing or even subsidized housing,” Tansey said.
The advocate said subsidized housing is great but there are long waitlists to get onto the lists. With the cuts, Tansey said it is even less likely new affordable housing facilities will be built for seniors.
St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud noted the government is asking seniors affordable housing groups to use their surplus.
NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said there is a multitude of ways the UCP is reaching into the pockets of seniors.
Notley said the government de-indexed the funding for lower income seniors and some $47 million is being lost in four different seniors programs.
“There are 46,000 people that have been kicked off of the seniors (drug) plan,” Notley said.
In the budget, the UCP government rolled out new rules for the seniors drug plan which booted off non-seniors and dependents, leaving only space for seniors on the plan.
Notley said this could impact many households where one worker doesn’t have drug coverage through their job and was using their spouse's drug coverage.
“Then they are also toying with the idea of bringing in income testing for the seniors who currently get the drug plan,” Notley said.
The provincial budget was released in October.