Liberal MLA calls on government to increase subsidies for community care facilities

·3 min read
Liberal MLA Hal Perry says in some cases community care facilities are looking after residents who should be in long-term care, but there are no spaces for them. (Alexander Raths/Shutterstock - image credit)
Liberal MLA Hal Perry says in some cases community care facilities are looking after residents who should be in long-term care, but there are no spaces for them. (Alexander Raths/Shutterstock - image credit)

A Liberal MLA is asking the P.E.I. government to increase the subsidies paid to private community care facilities.

Hal Perry raised the issue during question period in the legislature Wednesday.

He told CBC News he's spoken to people who work in community care within his district, Tignish-Palmer Road, who say employee turnover is increasing and they're concerned about how they're going to attract and retain staff.

Community care homes provide light care and support for people who don't need nursing care but may be unable to live on their own. These facilities are regulated by the province and receive a subsidy from government for eligible residents.

Perry said in some cases those facilities are looking after residents who should be in a long-term care facility, but there are no spaces for them.

"That increases the amount of work and responsibility these care workers have and they should be getting wages that basically represent the amount of work that they do," Perry said.

Perry says community care workers in his area are making just over $14 an hour and he'd like to see that wage increased to between $16 and $18 per hour.
Perry says community care workers in his area are making just over $14 an hour and he'd like to see that wage increased to between $16 and $18 per hour.(Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Perry said community care workers in his area are paid just over $14 per hour and he'd like to see that wage increased to between $16 and $18 per hour.

He said staff at the facilities he's spoken to are asking for the per diem from the province to be increased and speaking in the legislature he asked Minister of Social Development and Housing Brad Trivers what he was doing to address the issue.

"Advocates for community care facilities are saying that staff turnovers are above normal in our Island facilities and in my own community, I'm aware that it's very hard to attract and to retain workers because wages really don't match the responsibilities," Perry said.

"So, minister, what do you think is the appropriate wage for caregivers who help our seniors with daily living?"

Rate to be renegotiated this year

Trivers said he wasn't prepared to put a figure on that, but he will work with his department to discuss the issue and how the province can help.

"It's something that really needs to be part of our whole strategy in caring for our seniors," Trivers said.

"I'd like to go back to the department and dig into this more and see if we can come up with a good solution to this problem both in the short term and the long term."

The province said the per diem paid to community care facilities is $81.05 per eligible resident. In a statement to CBC, a spokesperson for the department said a person is eligible for the subsidy if their income assets do not exceed their fixed expenses relevant to community care costs.

'It's something that really needs to be part of our whole strategy in caring for our seniors,' says Minister of Social Development and Housing Brad Trivers.
'It's something that really needs to be part of our whole strategy in caring for our seniors,' says Minister of Social Development and Housing Brad Trivers.(Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.)

According to the province, government works with facilities to negotiate and set rates every three years for its residents and the rate is set to be reviewed later this spring. Trivers said that negotiation process with community care facilities is set to begin soon.

"We want to support the community care facilities so they can get the staff they need. Obviously if recruitment and retention of staff is an issue that will come up at the negotiations and they'll bring it to our attention," Trivers said.

"We want community care facilities that are properly staffed so we'll work with them to come to the best solution."

Trivers invited Perry to meet with his department and provide input on the matter.

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