Social Assistance Vision Care

Opposition Social Development and Housing critic Hannah Bell has tabled Motion 30 – Social assistance vision care in the Legislative Assembly of PEI, and it bears paying attention to, as it addresses both a specific deficiency in the Island’s Social Assistance policies, and the larger issue of why they are so seldom updated.

The specific issue: Social Assistance will provide $54 for an eye exam and $115 for eyeglass frames and lenses, rates that have not been updated since 2007.

As anyone who’s ever gone for an eye exam knows, eye exams don’t actually cost $54 (the last one I had cost $125).

And as anyone who’s ever gone shopping for eyeglasses knows, eyeglasses don’t actually cost $115.

This makes no sense.

High-quality, properly corrected vision, reviewed regularly, is a necessary precondition for employment and education, to say nothing of simply being able to exist day to day with confidence and comfort.

My eyeglasses–progressive bifocals with prisms that cost several multiples of $115–are basic to my ability to exist; without them I could not work, drive, read a book, watch television, or make out the ingredients on a pill bottle. All Islanders deserve the right to these things.

Motion 30 is a modest, targeted motion with three asks:

  • Urge government to review this policy and increase the fee paid for visual assessment to align with the current average fee.
  • Urge government to increase the coverage for basic frames and lenses or contact lenses to reflect current average cost.
  • That these increases be done in consultation with the PEI College of Optometrists

I encourage you to contact your MLA to encourage them to understand this issue, and to support Motion 30.