The Alberta government is set to make changes to its drug programs starting March 1, 2020, ending coverage for dependents under the Alberta Seniors Benefit Drug Program.

That change was announced as part of the 2019 Alberta budget but affected individuals were reminded of the pending change in letters sent out by the government last week.

“To ensure the government can continue to provide this program to our province’s seniors and to keep Alberta’s health system sustainable, the government is changing the eligibility criteria for the program,” the letter reads.

Steve Buick, a spokesperson for Health Minister Tyler Shandro, wrote in an email that the program is Alberta’s largest drug program, costing $600 million per year with that cost rising eight per cent annually.

“The Seniors [Benefit] Drug Program is for seniors — not for non-seniors. No other province covers non-seniors through a seniors’ drug program,” he wrote.

Ending coverage for dependents such as partners or those under 65 will save the province approximately $36.5 million each year, Buick wrote.

Approximately 46,000 Albertans currently utilize the program as implemented as dependents, according to Buick.