EDMONTON—The Alberta government has just completed a closed door consultation with invited stakeholders to discuss increasing the cost for long-term care residents to encourage private corporations to build more facilities. Representatives from private corporations who participated in the consultation said they would be unable to commit to building new long-term care centres unless the price was increased to at least $100 per day from the current maximum of $54.
"Why did the government decide to hold private closed door consultations instead of actually asking Albertans about what they want for the future of seniors' care," asks Noel Somerville, the Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta’s Seniors Task Force, a coalition of 15 organizations. "If the government agrees to what the corporations are asking it would nearly double the costs and inflict serious hardship on frail seniors and their families. Did they learn nothing from Auditor General’s report and subsequent MLA review of seniors care?"
The government’s new Continuing Care Strategy states that they are not going to build any more care facilities. Instead the plan is to rely on investments from private corporations to build long-term care auxiliary hospitals. To do this, the corporations have been told they will get "increased incentives" and will be able to set up a two-tiered service structure.
"This is a major step forward in the plan to turn over seniors care to private corporations," says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. "How can the government think it is acceptable to privatize the care of the frailest of our seniors without asking Albertans if they agree with this idea?"
"With over 1500 seniors assessed to be on the urgent waiting list to get into long-term care, this plan to privatize seniors' care is not going to respond to the current crisis in care, let alone prepare us to respond to the increase demand that will come as the baby boomers require care," says Somerville.
"Rather than cutting services in an effort to save some money now, the government needs to be investing in the expansion of a quality public care system. This will not only save seniors and their families from having to pay thousands of dollars more each month, but will ultimately save the government more and reduce the strain on our acute care hospital system."
The member organizations of Public Interest Alberta’s Senior’s Task Force are going to be mobilizing Albertans to put pressure on the government to commit to a public continuing care system. They will be joining with Friends of Medicare and other groups to host a rally at the provincial legislature on Saturday, May 9th at 1:30 pm.
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