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Alberta Budget 2014 takes care of seniors


March 24, 2014
By Canadian Chiropractor staff

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March 24, 2014 — With the number of seniors set to grow by five per cent this year, Alberta's Budget 2014 is increasing funding to programs designed to help seniors stay independent.

Funding increases are targeted in a variety of areas, including home care, continuing care, supplementary benefits including optical and dental, and special needs assistance for people living on a low-income.

"With the population of seniors continuing to grow, the government
continues to take steps that ensure seniors have the supports they need
to maintain their quality of life and stay close to family and loved
ones as they age," said Fred Horne, Minister of Health

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Targeted spending will add capacity to a number of seniors support programs, including:

– Six per cent increase ($21 million) to the Alberta Seniors Benefit for a total of $353 million;
– About 150,000 low-income seniors will continue to receive benefits;

23 per cent increase ($6 million) for special needs assistance for
items such as appliances, home repairs and medical expenses for a total
of $31 million, to help ensure this unique program continues to be
available to the most vulnerable seniors facing unexpected costs;

$11 million increase to the seniors supplementary health benefit for
things such as dental and optical care for a total of $127 million;
– 44 per cent increase ($12 million) for enhanced home care and rehabilitation services, for a total of $40 million:

$2 million will be used to help 1,000 more people go home from the
hospital with enhanced home care support, and $10 million will be
invested in continuing care research designed to make further
improvements to quality and safety;
– $20 million budgeted for the Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program.

"Seniors
are a very important part of this province, and Budget 2014 reflects
that importance. It will help seniors to stay happy, healthy, and in
their homes and communities, which is where they want to be," said Dave
Quest, associate minister of seniors.

Budget 2014 also invests in
infrastructure for the province’s continuing care system, including
$252 million over three years for the Affordable Supportive Living
Initiative to support the development of affordable supportive living
spaces across the province. The government is also investing $294
million over three years for other continuing care projects.

"We
appreciate the government’s commitment to Alberta seniors in the budget –
this highlights the importance of seniors, and of providing them with
strong supports and services. We also look forward to continuing work on
the new Continuing Care Strategy, which will focus on quality of life
and support aging in place," said John Pray, president and CEO,
Shepherd’s Care Foundation, and president of the Alberta Continuing Care
Association

In the last fiscal year, more than 150,000 seniors
received almost $324 million in financial assistance through the Alberta
Seniors Benefit. More than 88,000 seniors received a total of $69
million in dental benefits, and 37,266 received a total of $7.5 million
in optical benefits.

More than 26,000 seniors received $22.8
million in financial assistance through the Special Needs Assistance for
Seniors program.

The number of home care clients in 2012/13 was
108,855. This is an increase in home care clients since 2010/11 of 8.3
per cent. From 2010/11 to 2012/13 home care spending increased by 24.4
per cent.


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