PEI

'It's discrimination': Group questions change in hearing aid coverage at age 65

The P.E.I. Hard of Hearing Association wants to know why it gets harder for Islanders to get hearing aids after their 65th birthday.

Hearing loss can lead to social isolation and depression, says association

Not getting a hearing aid can lead to serious health problems, says Annie Lee MacDonald. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The P.E.I. Hard of Hearing Association wants to know why it gets more difficult for Islanders to get hearing aids after their 65th birthday.

Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker tabled a petition from the association with 2,000 signatures in the P.E.I. legislature Tuesday.

As the rules stand, Islanders seeking financial assistance to buy hearing aids face an income test before their 65th birthday, but after that milestone they must apply through social assistance, which means their assets are taken into account as well.

"It's discrimination," said association president Annie Lee MacDonald.

"Seniors up to age 65 are included and over 65 you're not eligible."

No promises from government

MacDonald said the health impact of going without a hearing aid can be serious.

"What they're doing is withdrawing from the many activities that they were involved in, because they've been humiliated so many times and they feel more comfortable not going," she said.

The resulting social isolation can lead to depression, she added.

Responding to Bevan-Baker during question period, Social Development Minister Ernie Hudson was non-committal.

"Will we look at this? Can we look at this on a go-forward basis? I would say yes, absolutely. Can I give a guarantee or would I give a guarantee today? I'm not in a position to do that," said Hudson.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Kerry Campbell

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