Nova Scotia Liberal Party leadership candidate Randy Delorey says he will introduce a low-income seniors dental program and assistance for buying hearing aids if he becomes premier next month.
The Antigonish MLA and former health minister released a list on Tuesday of plans to help seniors. Nova Scotia Liberal Party delegates will elect a new leader and premier on Feb. 6.
In an interview, Delorey said the idea for the dental program stems from a constituent who recently needed emergency dental care.
"When it gets to that point, obviously, it's often associated with a lack of preventative care up front," he said.
"The motivations are very similar to that of a youth dental program, which is focused on preventative care up front and services to help manage dental health going forward. So at the seniors population I think that's a gap, and I think we can support them more."
N.S. offers no support for hearing aids
The Community Services Department currently offers people on income assistance partial coverage for emergency dental work under certain conditions, but nothing for preventative care. Delorey said it would take some time to develop the approach before he could say when the program would be ready, but he'd like to see it done quickly.
Another shortfall he's pledging to address is funding for low-income seniors who require hearing aids.
Nova Scotia and Manitoba are the only provinces in the country not to make some money available and Delorey's plan calls for at least $500 to go toward the expense.
When it comes to long-term care, Delorey is committing to permanently do away with rooms that have more than two beds, a promise he first made as minister following a report on long-term care delivered in September.
The Liberal government has only started in recent years to announce plans for and construction of new long-term care beds, choosing first to focus on major funding increases for homecare.
Other candidates' LTC plans
Delorey said he stands by the decision to focus on homecare first and then see how that would affect needs within the long-term care sector. More than 1,500 people were on the wait-list as of November.
"None of the modelling or anticipation that predated those efforts [on homecare] would be able to inform the path that would be needed for infrastructure for long-term care facilities," he said.
"It's a difficult balance to strike but we, again, did need to make those [homecare] investments first."
Delorey's fellow candidates have also talked about the need for increased long-term care support.
Halifax Citadel-Sable Island MLA Labi Kousoulis has committed to building enough new long-term care beds so people no longer have to wait in hospital for a placement, as well as addressing staffing concerns.
Timberlea-Prospect MLA Iain Rankin has said a major increase in financial support for long-term care would be among his top priorities should he become premier.
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