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Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shown making an announcement in Calgary on March 19, 2019.

The Canadian Press

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is promising that, if re-elected, her government would cover all prescription drug costs for middle- and low-income seniors.

Ms. Notley says it’s wrong that some seniors are forced to choose between filling their prescriptions or buying necessities.

Seniors making less than $75,000 a year would be covered.

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Right now, anyone over 65 pays one-third of the cost, and Ms. Notley says that adds up quickly with multiple prescriptions.

It’s expected the plan would cost an added $110-million a year.

Ms. Notley says the changes will benefit 80 per cent of seniors and save them about $200 a year each.

She notes her government has helped seniors in other ways: adding more than 2,100 long-term care and dementia beds, and increasing the seniors benefit.

“Seniors built this province and they shouldn’t have to choose between paying to fill their prescriptions or paying to fill their fridge,” Ms. Notley said Friday in a news release.

“We are funding drug coverage for low- and middle-income seniors because we know that people are healthier when they take their prescription medication.”

Meanwhile, the United Conservatives say Rachel Notley and the NDP need to show how they are going to pay for big-ticket spending promises they are making during the campaign for the April 16 Alberta election.

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United Conservatives say Alberta Notley, NDP must come clean on spending promises

The United Conservatives say Rachel Notley and the NDP need to show how they are going to pay for big-ticket spending promises they are making during the campaign for the April 16 Alberta election.

Jason Nixon, the UCP’s house leader, says Notley needs to explain which taxes she would increase to keep her promise to balance the budget by 2023.

Notley has promised new money for many projects, including more funding to hire teachers, to reduce surgical waiting lists and to cover drug costs for low- and middle-income seniors.

Nixon says the NDP has a poor track record on financial management, given that the provincial debt is projected to hit $95 billion by 2023.

Notley has said her party will soon be releasing its financial projections, which remain on track for a balanced budget in 2023.

Nixon says the NDP has no credibility since it originally said it intended to balance the books by 2017.

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“Albertans will have paid $2 billion in interest on the NDP debt this fiscal year alone, which is more than 19 of 23 government departments,” Nixon told a news conference Friday.

“It is clear that the NDP are not serious about balancing the budget. This will have real consequences for Albertans. Higher debt and more interest (payments) simply means less for public services.”

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