April 4, 2016 - Ontario is making changes to the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program that will allow more than 170,000 seniors to become newly eligible for the low-income seniors program. As a result, they will save approximately $130 on average per year in out-of-pocket drug costs and almost half-a-million Ontario seniors will pay no deductible and only a co-payment of up to $2 per prescription.
Starting August 1, 2016, the government proposes to increase the income thresholds to qualify for the low-income seniors benefit:
These new thresholds are aligned with the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System and will be indexed to ensure they remain aligned in future benefit years. With these changes, Ontario seniors will continue to enjoy the lowest on average out-of-pocket drug costs of any seniors across the provinces in Canada.
In addition to changes to benefit low-income seniors, the 2016 Budget also included proposed changes to drug cost contributions by non-low income seniors. Over the past month, the Province has consulted with Ontarians on these proposed changes and received feedback from seniors and representative organizations. Based on this feedback, the government is pausing the planned increases to drug cost contributions from seniors who are not low-income. Beginning this year the government will continue to consult on the correct income thresholds for an improved Ontario Drug Benefit, with a view to creating a fair, sustainable system that remains among the most generous in Canada.
Making drugs more affordable for low-income seniors is part of the government's plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.
Since 1996, there have been no updates to the income thresholds for the ODB low-income seniors program and the co-payment and deductible for non-low income seniors, even though the cost to the government per senior has increased by nearly 130 per cent.
“With an aging population in Scarborough-Guildwood and across Ontario, it is now more crucial than ever before that we invest in caring for our seniors; the people who have done so much for our community. The Ontario Drug Benefit Program will help our low-income seniors save on drug expenses and continue to live healthy active lifestyles.”
— Mitzie Hunter, MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood
“Our Budget includes improvements to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program so that over 170,000 more low-income seniors would save on their drug costs. These seniors will save an additional $130 per year as Ontario seniors continue to enjoy the lowest on average out-of-pocket costs of any seniors across the provinces in Canada.”
— Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
“With the number of seniors in Ontario expected to double within the next 25 years, it’s important we acknowledge the needs of an aging population. Today’s changes to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program will make drugs more affordable for many seniors on fixed incomes.”
— Mario Sergio, Minister Responsible for Seniors Affairs