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N.S. Liberals slam “tedious” audits of senior care grant

By Evan Taylor Apr 18, 2024 | 11:39 AM

IgorVetushko / Depositphotos.com

According to Nova Scotia’s Liberal Party, 1,300 seniors have already received audit notices relating to their Senior Care Grant applications, causing much stress and anxiety.

The Liberals are calling these audits “tedious” in a statement provided to the media and want to see a simplified approach.

The grant offers up to $750 to low-income (household net income of $37,500 or less) seniors to cover household and healthcare services and home heating costs. The full list of eligible expenses is quite extensive meaning that when an audit notice is received seniors need to be prepared with receipts from many purchases that then need to be scanned and submitted.

One of the seniors who received a notice was Northside-Westmount resident  Alexander Barry who reached out to his local MLA Fred Tilley for support. He then brought numerous receipts to the MLA office to be scanned and submitted.

“For seniors like me on a fixed income, we can’t afford to spend the money from the Seniors Care Grant on anything but necessities,” said Barry. “Getting a letter from the government that you are being audited is scary for many of us who fear we will have to pay the money back or not receive it next year. With the cost-of-living so high, getting any extra money is helpful,”.

The Liberals’ statement indicated they understand the need for checks and balances to ensure provincial programs aren’t abused, however, they don’t want it to be tedious for seniors who are often targeted by scams and struggle with technology.

Nova Scotia Minister of Seniors and Long-Term Care Barbra Adams was asked about the audits following cabinet on Thursday and indicated the program is operating as intended. Minister  Adams said that the eligible expenses were expanded this year to include power bills and adding them to the already extensive list of eligible expenses means that everyone applying should have more than enough in eligible claims.

“It’s a typical amount of audits, about 5 percent of applications are audited as a requirement from CRA,” said Minister Adams. “I don’t know any senior who doesn’t have sufficient expenses to qualify for the $750,”.