Media releases | December 16, 2014

Families Suffering Due to Underfunding of Care System

EDMONTON—Public Interest Alberta’s Seniors Task Force released a Long-Term Care position paper today that calls on the Prentice government to fix the growing crisis in seniors care.

The sixteen organizations are deeply concerned that the Prentice government will not change the government policy that caps the number of long-term care beds and continues to fund seniors care 19% below the national average.

“The crisis in seniors care can be largely addressed if the government is willing to invest in building enough long-term care places to meet the current and future needs and to employ more medically trained staff to increase the number of care hours from 3.6 to 4.5 hours/day” said Noel Somerville, the Chair of Public Interest Alberta’s Seniors Task Force. “The Prentice government needs to revise its six year old Continuing Care Strategy that caps the number of LTC beds at 14,500 and stop putting public funds into building more corporately run supportive living and assisted living facilities that charge families huge amounts of money for extra care and supports.”

Studies done by the OECD indicate that the 34 member countries have on average enough long-term care capacity for 4% of their population over the age of 65.  By that count, Alberta should have about 20,000, a shortfall of nearly 6000 beds.

“How is it possible that a senior official with AHS can get away with telling the government’s Public Accounts Committee last week that there are too many long-term care beds in Alberta when my husband Clarence has been at the University of Alberta hospital since August 8th awaiting placement?” asks Bernie Travis, representative of the group Early Onset Dementia Alberta.  “This government needs to build a quality seniors care system so that families are not suffering without the support they need for their loved ones and the care givers.”

"For too long our long-term care system has faced constant underfunding and privatization," said Heather Smith, President of United Nurses of Alberta. "Increasing the number of public long-term care beds with appropriate staffing levels will ensure residents receive the safest and most cost-effective care possible."

The release of this position paper comes as Alberta Health Services concludes the continuing care system review that they have been quietly conducting for the past six months. The Seniors Task Force is calling for the report and recommendations of the Continuing Care Resolution Team to be publicly released.

An investigation by the Office of Protection for Persons in Care was released at the media conference describing how one Edmonton senior died due to neglect in a private, for-profit care facility.

“People are getting angry when they hear stories about seniors and their families who not getting the care they need in the final years of their lives,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “We know that AHS has just wrapped up its review of our continuing care system, but unless Albertans start speaking out and telling their stories about the seniors care system, I am afraid the Prentice Government will not make the necessary changes to fix the crisis in seniors care.”

Download the PIA Seniors Task Force Position Paper on Long-Term Care.