N.B. opposition MLAs denounce lack of transparency about special care home closures

Liberal Opposition critic for social development Robert Gauvin, left, and Green Party Leader David Coon say the Department of Social Development should be sharing details as to why it revoked the licences of two special care homes in Neguac, N.B. (CBC - image credit)
Liberal Opposition critic for social development Robert Gauvin, left, and Green Party Leader David Coon say the Department of Social Development should be sharing details as to why it revoked the licences of two special care homes in Neguac, N.B. (CBC - image credit)

Opposition MLAs are criticizing the provincial government for sharing few details around why it decided to shut down two special care homes in New Brunswick, effectively displacing the 29 residents they housed.

"Now, once again, we have a government that refuses to come clean on explaining the actions it takes," said Green Party Leader David Coon.

"It's unacceptable. The business of government is the business of the people, and the people have a right to know."

The Department of Social Development announced Tuesday it had revoked the operating licences for Villa Neguac and Foyer St. Bernard — both located in Neguac, N.B. — out of concern for the well-being of residents living there.

The decision has left the families of residents scrambling to find new homes by Feb. 17. Because spaces in the area are limited, some families may have to settle for moving their loved ones to homes as far away as Bathurst or Miramichi.

Michèle Brideau/RADIO-CANADA
Michèle Brideau/RADIO-CANADA

Social Development has confirmed an investigation was carried out and "infractions" were found, it won't say what those violations were.

Robert Gauvin, the Liberal Opposition critic for social development, said the public is wrongly being "left in the dark" on what was going at the two special care homes.

"The problem with lack of transparency [is it] creates doubts, and when you create doubt, you're left to wonder," Gauvin said.

"But at the end of the day, they closed the place, and they did not close it because it was going well, right?"

CBC News hasn't been allowed to speak with Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard, despite multiple requests.

In an email, department spokesperson Rebecca Howland said confidentiality rules prevent elaborating on the nature of the infractions and the investigations carried out on the two homes.

She said inspections for both homes were completed between November and December of 2021 and were valid for one year.

They were due to be renewed in 2022 but were not because of the investigation.

"When an investigation is underway, this indicates that there are serious concerns with quality of care standards not being met, and they have risen to the level that an investigation is required," Howland said.

"The purpose of an investigation is to confirm or negate the allegations of non-compliance with established standards and practices."

CBC News also called both Villa Neguac and Foyer St. Bernard on Thursday and was told no managers or owners were available for an interview.

Moncton address for director of both homes

Howland said the department had issued the operating licences to Amit Singh Jatana, Bhajan Kour and Ravinder Pal Singh.

Meanwhile, New Brunswick's corporate registry names Dr. Amarjeet Singh Jatana as the sole director for both of the homes, with a Moncton address listed under his name.

In a news release on Tuesday, the Department of Social Development said it recognized that staff at both homes remained dedicated to residents "despite challenges related to the operation of the facilities."