Health PEI ending COVID-19 grants for Island private care homes

·2 min read

The P.E.I. government is putting an end to grants it was providing to private long-term care and community care homes to cover costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health PEI has informed long-term care homes that the grants used to subsidize additional staffing, personal protective equipment, and modifications to seniors' homes have come to an end as of Dec. 31, 2020.

Andrew MacDougall, acting executive director for community health and seniors care with Health PEI, says the province will still help seniors' homes with additional costs.

But he said the owners of the private homes will have to demonstrate the need for help rather than being handed a universal grant based on the number of beds in that seniors' home.

"The regular granting process, that has ceased," MacDougall said of the year-end change.

"Certainly what hasn't changed is the commitment to work with the sector and decisively respond, so anything past that point, if any home comes forth and … has demonstrable challenges or issues in terms of being able to adhere to these guidelines and do whatever needs to be done to protect our residents, we're going to be there at the table with them."

Nearly 40 long-term care and community care homes took advantage of the funding.

Provincial officials say about $4.5 million was spent on the grants between April and December. About $3.1 million of that came from the federal government's Safe Restart Program.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

MacDougall said early on in the pandemic, the province recognized private seniors' homes would need additional assistance. He said the goal then was to get the money out into the hands of those who needed it as quickly as possible.

"We didn't know nearly as much about the pandemic as we do now," said MacDougall.

"It was very clear when you looked at what was happening nationally that it was hitting long-term care very hard. So the principles were, 'Let's work with the sector, let's get the support out quick as possible, let's make it administratively efficient to access these funds as quickly as possible.' So that was the mantra."

No word from home operators yet

CBC News reached out to a number of owners of private care homes in the province Friday but did not hear back before deadline.

MacDougall said the change has been met with "a mix of reactions," and some home administrators were not happy with the decision to end the grants.

"We've also had some positive expressions, recognizing that the program served its purpose," he added.

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