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Daily rates at government long-term care homes are going up, but by how much at this point is anyone’s guess.
At first, the plan in January was to raise rates by 30 per cent to $102 per day in public long-term seniors care homes by April.
Then, because of public backlash, the new plan was to phase in that increase over two years. So, by 2021, residents would be paying at most $102 per day.
Then health minister Robert Mitchell (now interim Liberal Party leader) reinforced that plan by telling The Guardian that the rate increases would be phased in over six-month periods.
So that was the plan. But recently, a freedom of information request by The Guardian tells a different story.
In fact, health officials planned to raise rates by 45 per cent by 2021, or $113 a day.
In January, a senior communications staffer confirmed both amounts – that the idea is to have increases to $113 a day, but changing the message from $102 a day would be confusing and open up the government to more criticism.
Oh wait. Another internal communication suggests a different course – that public care homes should be on par with the average price of $120 per day charged by private care homes.
Ron MacNeill spoke to The Guardian about the uncertainty around rate increases regarding his 93-year-old father, who is a resident at Beach Grove Home.
Residents did receive a letter that rates were going up to $102 per day while MacNeill heard from health officials that the increase was going to be $113.
So, are they both correct or is it going to be an increase of $102 or $113 by 2021?
MacNeill was also correct to point out that rate increases should be based on the costs of delivering services and not to match up with the private sector.
Clearly, new Health and Wellness Minister James Aylward and his new Deputy Minister Mark Spidel have their work cut out getting everyone on the same page and getting out a consistent story to the public.
Quite simply, families need to know what the rate increases are actually going to be so they can budget accordingly.
Families are dealing with the same high cost of living on P.E.I. as everyone else. Although the discussed rate increases don’t seem like much on a day-to-day basis, when factored over a year, the increase would be thousands of dollars.
This is also an opportunity for all the parties in this new minority government to work together and figure out a rate that is affordable for families.
Island seniors deserve that much.