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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Ron MacNeill says he is shocked and frustrated after learning that rates at a Charlottetown care home could increase by more than 30 per cent.
MacNeill, whose 92-year-old father has been a resident of Beach Grove Home since last June, received an email last week from the province’s director of long-term care, Andrew MacDougall.
The letter stated that his father’s accommodation charge would increase from $77.60 per day to $93.39 as of March 1 and to $102.73 as of April 1. This represents a 32 per cent increase.
“Increases to our rates are now necessary to ensure (we) are able to continue to provide appropriate services to our residents,” the letter read.
MacNeill said the scheduled increases have allowed him little time to plan for the added cost of his father’s care.
“It was a stunning shocker,” MacNeill said.
A statement from Health P.E.I. said room rates have not increased since 2012, despite an increase in costs for operating long-term care homes. Individuals who earn less than $38,400 per year could be eligible for a subsidy to help cover a “portion of these increases.”
However, Health P.E.I. said only approximately 100 of the 600 long-term care residents on the Island would have to pay the full rate increase.
“Health P.E.I. has been seeking authorization for a number of years to increase public long-term care rates. With authorization to increase rates incrementally, this is a move towards improving the fairness in how long-term care residents are treated across the entire long-term care system — in both public and private sectors,” Health P.E.I. said in the statement.
The statement also said average rates for private long-term care are approximately $118 per day.
“Honestly, I see that's quite a burden to put on these individuals and their families. I'm dealing with Health P.E.I. to say, ‘what can we do here?’"
-Health Minister Robert Mitchell
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MacNeill said his father is a stroke survivor who spends most of his time in bed. His pension, earned from working for the federal government for 42 years, has largely gone towards his medical care, medication and rent.
“What’s left over is a small, little amount of comfort,” MacNeill said.
“It will exhaust his entire pension,” MacNeill said of the rent increase.
Because of mobility issues, MacNeill said his father has few options but to pay the increased rates, which amount to an increase of $754 per month.
But on Monday afternoon, Health Minister Robert Mitchell contradicted the Health P.E.I. statement, saying the rates would be increased only by $5 per day every six months, over a two-year period, starting April 1.
"The intention was that the increase in rates would use a phased-in approach. Now there was probably an oversight here — the phased-in approach was a $20 increase over two months, which obviously is cause for concern," Mitchell said.
“Honestly, I see that's quite a burden to put on these individuals and their families. I'm dealing with Health P.E.I. to say, ‘what can we do here?’ "
The end goal, however, according to Mitchell, is still to raise the rates for long-term care homes to $102.73 per day by 2021. This rate would be comparable to rates in private facilities.
"The goal here was to achieve parity, which I think is important. It's got to be fair for a senior in a private home or a public home," Mitchell said.
P.E.I. is expected to see a significant increase in its population of seniors in the coming years. In response, Health P.E.I. announced funding for an additional 100 beds in private long-term care facilities throughout the Island last November. None of this funding was allocated for expanded capacity in public long-term care facilities.