Blog | March 04, 2014

By Darcy Henton, Calgary Herald

EDMONTON—The Redford government is proposing to offer public lands to private and non-profit companies to leverage more long-term-care facilities and affordable housing for seniors.

“Your government will consider options, including the use of provincial land, to meet the commitment to build new continuing-care centres,” Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell said in Monday’s throne speech.

Health Minister Fred Horne said he couldn’t provide details of the plan before Thursday’s budget, but confirmed the province is considering using strategically located Crown land to spur development of much-needed facilities.

“We are looking at what land is available in Alberta and how that might play into some of the development we want to do in the area of continuing care, but also in affordable housing for seniors,” Horne said in an interview.

“It’s an asset that is available to work with operators who want to develop.”

Horne said the plan keys on building partnerships between government and companies that work in the field — not-for-profit, private and also government entities such as Carewest and Capital Care.

“We want to focus on independent living as much as possible,” he said. “We’re looking at ways to use technology to help people stay in their homes longer and be monitored remotely. The way ahead isn’t just building spaces. Part of the solution is what can we do… to help people at home.”

NDP Leader Brian Mason said long-term care should be delivered by the public sector.

“If they are going to give free land to private companies to make profits from long-term care, that’s not something we’re prepared to support,” he said.

Bill Moore-Kilgannon of Public Interest Alberta also had concerns about the concept. He noted the PC government hasn’t fulfilled its commitment to create 1,000 long-term-care beds.

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With files from Karen Kleiss, Edmonton Journal

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