Media releases | September 22, 2009

EDMONTON—Public Interest Alberta released leaked documents today that reveal significant changes are being planned for Alberta’s long-term care system.“There are many things Albertans will find shocking and ludicrous about this report and the meetings minutes,” says Noel Somerville, Chairperson of PIA Seniors’ Task Force.The report and the minutes from closed-door meetings of the Long-Term Care Accommodations Variable Fee Structure Advisory Team show that:

  • The government target is to reduce long-term care beds by 80% over the next 20 years.
  • Significant changes are already in process from Alberta Health for LTC policy including establishing a private long-term contacts model (P3) for building new long-term care and amending the “first available bed policy.”
  • There are 800 people currently in the health system awaiting placement in a LTC bed.
  • Only 54% of LTC facilities are compliant with standards even after they are given 2 – 6 months to resolve the problems.
  • Industry spokespeople say they require an increase to $90 per day (up from an average of $50/day) to cover the capital costs of building new care facilities.
  • All pricing models for long-term care that are being proposed will deregulate the accommodation rates, which will transfer the costs onto the frailest of seniors and their families.
“These documents reveal that not only is our current long-term care system deeply flawed, but that the pricing and privatization models that are being proposed will make it even worse for seniors who require the highest level of medically necessary care,” says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “This whole process has been taking place behind closed doors and Albertans need to understand that unless we speak out, our long-term care system will be rapidly privatized and high needs seniors will be faced with very significant cost increases.”Even though the government officials acknowledge in the documents that “Today’s system is characterized by constrained supply of long-term care beds…” and that we currently have 800 people in hospitals medically assessed to require a LTC bed, the report reveals that “The Continuing Care Strategy targets a significant reduction in long-term care beds.”“While the business sector may see long-term care as another area to make large profits, people need to know that for cognitively impaired, frail and chronically ill seniors, the monitoring and personal care they require is medically necessary, just as much as bypass surgery is to a heart attack victim,” says Somerville. “Long-term care facilities, which are governed by the Hospital Act and the Nursing Home Act are the only facilities staffed and equipped to meet those medical needs, and it is very upsetting to see how they are planning to further reduce access and privatize the whole system.”Public Interest Alberta is calling on the government to hold real open public consultations about these proposed drastic changes to our long-term care system.PIA will be launching a public awareness campaign and is calling on Albertans to contact the Premier, the Minister of Health and Wellness and the Minister of Seniors and Community supports along with their MLAs to challenge them not to cut, deregulate and privatize the system.Links to get involved in this advocacy campaign, a synopsis of the main findings and the summary report and minutes can be found on Public Interest Alberta’s website at -30-Media Contacts:Noel Somerville (780) 452-1846Bill Moore-Kilgannon (780) 420-0471