Blog | December 20, 2011

By Tanara McLean, Edmonton SunCritics are calling a new round of more than 500 private-public senior care spaces a move towards privatization.“It’s almost a $100,000 subsidy per space, a lot of them going to private businesses,” said David Eggen with Friends of Medicare.“That’s something to be concerned about.”Senior’s minister George VanderBurg announced Monday that the province has committed $48.2 million to help build 511 new affordable supportive living and 30 long-term care spaces in Calgary, Okotoks, Strathmore, Edmonton, Villeneuve and Olds.The funding comes under the Affordable Supportive Living Initiative (ASLI).Eight private and public organizations beat out more than 60 applicants to share the funds, which will build nine projects across the province.During her leadership campaign, Premier Alison Redford pitched a plan to help create additional senior care spaces in private facilities.“She has said make sure that everyone knows that the opportunity for partnering with ASLI grants are open to all,” said VanderBurg.The minister said how the spaces are created is not the main focus, instead a senior’s ability to stay close to family is the ultimate goal of the announcement.“Ageing in the right place will have an opportunity for people to have continued services at a different level,” said VenderBurg.“If you come into a facility and you’re 83 and all you need is maybe some medical assistance with your drugs, maybe when you’re 93 you need some more assistance. That contract with Alberta Health will grow as the needs grow for the senior.”VanderBurg has been tasked with creating 1,000 senior spaces a year over the next five years — a goal VanderBurg intends to exceed.“To me it’s not enough. When we reach that point we can’t be sitting on our hands. We must continue to develop all types of housing whether it be assisted living, long-term care or independent living. There’s a realm of opportunities and we must embrace them all,” he said.Critics, however, say the province is reluctant to act on the most pressing issue — seniors occupying hospital beds due to a lack of long-term care beds in the province.“We could build 1,500 long term care spaces and they would be filled here tomorrow in the province of Alberta,” said Eggen.Bill Moore-Kilgannon with Public Interest Alberta agrees, saying “Ultimately we have to look at the seniors who are in acute care (in) hospitals who absolutely need long term care and there is absolutely nothing for them today.”As of March 31, there were 14,550 operational long-term care beds in the province, while 1,815 seniors were waiting for continuing care [email protected]@SunTanaraMcLeanBy Tanara McLean, Edmonton Sun

This article was published in the Edmonton Sun on December 20, 2011. Read the full article on the Edmonton Sun website.