The Fraser Health Authority is planning to cost cut a popular program for seniors. They may be fragile and in their final years, but a feisty group of Lower Mainland seniors are fighting back.

Macular degeneration took Bess Rivets eyes years ago. Since then, she's relied on seniors programs to help her get out of the house.

"They're icing on the cake. They add to the joy of life. Otherwise, life would just go on from day to day," she said.

On Friday, Rivets was one of hundreds of seniors protesting - because by the end of September, that program will disappear.

Facing a $160-million budget shortfall, Fraser Health is chopping everything it doesn't call core patient services. The authority is saving $550,000 by cutting 12 different programs, from buses to outreach to social events.

Phoebe Paulsen is 81. She says these programs make her life worth living.

"Many of us would just shrivel up and die. I'm sure that many of us would," she said.

Organizers say the cost per patient for these volunteer agencies to operate was only 69 cents per day.

"We're talking about programs that cost a pittance compared to what they deliver," NDP health critic Adrian Dix said Friday.

The protestors say B.C. health minister Kevin Falcon hasn't been around to deal with the looming crisis in his ministry. CTV News learned from the ministry that Falcon was out of the country on vacation.

"The minister out of the scene when so much is going on is actually shameful," NDP MLA Jagrup Brar said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward