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Alberta city wants free driver medical exams for seniors

City of Cold Lake council recently deliberated over the cost of mandatory driver's license medical exams for people 75 and older. 

City of Cold Lake council recently deliberated over an issue affecting the senior population across the province – the cost of mandatory driver's license medical exams for people 75 and older. 

An agenda item during the March 26 City of Cold Lake council meeting resulted in discussions concerning the costs associated with mandatory driver medical exams for seniors. 

Andrew Serba, manager of Strategic Initiatives with the City, began the discussion by presenting a draft resolution for council’s consideration. He outlined the background, stating, “Mandatory driver medical exams for Albertans aged 75 years and older were covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan until 2020.”  

He highlighted the financial strain it puts on seniors, their reliance on driving for independence and medical access, and the broader impact on municipal services. 

City of Cold Lake Mayor Copeland opened the floor for discussion, asking, “Do you guys want to bring that to the floor as a resolution - or first of all I'll have to go through the Alberta Municipalities to review it - but do you guys want to keep on pursuing that or just wait and see... Where do you guys want to go on this?” 

Coun. Bill Parker, who agreed with reinstating the coverage, raised concerns about the financial burden on seniors and the potential strain on municipal resources if coverage was not reinstated fully.  

“I look at it from the point of, if we support the 25 per cent there are still seniors working on a fixed income... I think we have to go back to free.” 

Serba provided further context, discussing the inconsistencies in fees across different areas and the lack of clarity in the 25 per cent discount program that was recently announced. 

The resolution put before council calls for Alberta Municipalities to advocate the province for reinstating coverage for the medical exams for seniors aged 75 years and older, promoting their independence and well-being in their communities, according to the City of Cold Lake. 

As discussions wrapped up, council made a motion to send a request to Alberta Municipalities urging the reinstatement of coverage. 

On March 28, Alberta government announced a 25 per cent discount on various registry services for seniors. This discount covers essential areas such as drivers' licenses, vehicle registrations, renewals, license plates, and even marriage licenses. 

This move, as outlined in the Government of Alberta press release, is expected to directly benefit over 725,000 seniors. 

During the press conference, alongside Premier Smith, Minister Dale Nally, responsible for Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction, highlighted the government's approach in addressing seniors' affordability concerns.  

"Hearing the increasing concerns about affordability from seniors and knowing that more than 178,000 seniors in Alberta access income supports just to meet basic needs was more than enough motivation to ensure my ministry made the seniors discount a top priority,” he said. 

Nally also hinted at other discounts, including those for medical exam fees, indicating a broader strategy to enhance seniors' quality of life and financial well-being.  

Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Chantel Downes is a graduate of The King's University, with a passion for writing and storytelling. Originally from Edmonton, she received her degree in English and has a minor in communications.
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