UPDATE: This is an image doc­u­ment­ing pay­ments made by a senior who had been on the Ontario Seniors Drug Co-pay Pro­gram in 2017 and 2018 and then was cut from it effec­tive August 1, 2019.  When asked about this sit­u­a­tion by the media, staff of Ontario Min­is­ter of Health Chris­tine Elliott false­ly claimed no one had been cut from the pro­gram.  It’s been 12 weeks since the Min­is­ter was con­tact­ed by The Cen­ter for Patient Pro­tec­tion on behalf of affect­ed seniors.  We are still wait­ing for a response.

In the case of the senior who sent us this infor­ma­tion, they had to save up for sev­er­al months after being cut from the plan in order to be able to pay the $100 deductible and $4.11  co-payment for each pre­scrip­tion filled.  Had to forego some vital BP med­ica­tion and cut pills for dia­betes in half for more than two months.

Note that in the months pri­or to Octo­ber, all pay­ments were cov­ered by the pro­gram. It is clear­ly a hard­ship on low income seniors that should not be hap­pen­ing and which the Min­is­ter of Health needs to address urgent­ly.



Why are the most vul­ner­a­ble always at risk at the hands of the Ford gov­ern­ment? 

The Cen­ter for Patient Pro­tec­tion has received numer­ous mes­sages of con­cern from elder­ly cit­i­zens who found them­selves axed from the Ontario gov­ern­men­t’s Drug Co-payment Pro­gram. They had been receiv­ing ben­e­fits up to August 1, 2019 and then were sud­den­ly dropped because they were told they were mak­ing too much mon­ey. It seems like just anoth­er way for the Ford gov­ern­ment to make its finan­cial house look bet­ter by sav­ing mon­ey on the backs of the most vul­ner­a­ble.

These are seniors whose total income is less than $20,000 — all of it com­ing from fed­er­al Old Age Secu­ri­ty and Guar­an­teed Income Sup­ple­ment ben­e­fits and Ontar­i­o’s GAINS pro­gram. These pro­grams are avail­able only to the poor­est of seniors.  These are not new appli­cants to the pro­gram; some have been on it for sev­er­al years. 

Some alarmed seniors have said they will have to stop tak­ing med­ica­tion alto­geth­er for sev­er­al months until they can save enough mon­ey to cov­er the $100 deductible. Oth­ers say they will cut their pills in half to reduce the bur­den of the co-payments.

This will impose a huge and unex­pect­ed finan­cial bur­den on our poor­est cit­i­zens at a time when they can least afford it — and their health is at risk because of it. Some alarmed seniors have told The Cen­ter for Patient  Pro­tec­tion that they will have to stop tak­ing med­ica­tion alto­geth­er for sev­er­al months until they can save enough mon­ey to cov­er the $100 deductible that they did not antic­i­pate and is out­side their month­ly bud­get.  Oth­ers say they will cut their pills in half to reduce the bur­den of the co-payments.  It is not uncom­mon for seniors to be tak­ing 10 dif­fer­ent med­ica­tions a day. Some of these are for chron­ic con­di­tions like dia­betes, heart dis­ease and for those at high risk of stroke. Being thrown off the pro­gram could have a cat­a­stroph­ic out­come for these seniors.  

The Cen­ter reached out to Chris­tine Elliott, Min­is­ter of Health in the Ford gov­ern­ment, more than four weeks ago, to make her aware of the sit­u­a­tion.  Despite this, and our inter­view on Glob­al News Radio’s Morn­ing Show on the risks being caused to affect­ed seniors, the Min­is­ter has refused to respond or even acknowl­edge the con­cerns. This is what respon­si­ble Ontar­i­ans would define as an out­rage.

Apart from being com­plete­ly dis­re­spect­ful, such silence is need­less­ly leav­ing affect­ed seniors in a state of extreme anx­i­ety. That is irre­spon­si­ble for any­one, and it is total­ly unfor­giv­able on the part of a min­is­ter of health.

Urgent action is required to pre­vent irrepara­ble harm being done to peo­ple who will be forced to go with­out life-sustaining pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions because they can’t afford the annu­al deductible fee and dis­pens­ing co-payment charges.

This is an impor­tant devel­op­ing sto­ry, and we will keep you informed of our progress. 


Kath­leen Fin­lay’s inter­view on The Morn­ing Show on Glob­al News Radio