Smoking may be allowed at county-owned Long-Term care homes

Pembroke – Residents of Miramichi Lodge and Bonnechere Manor may be given the freedom to smoke on the property, something which has not been allowed since 2010.

“Over the years, residents with various degrees of mobility impairments have endured hazards associated with all weather conditions and vehicular traffic in order to vacate the property to smoke,” Director of Long-Term Care Michael Blackmore told the Health Committee last Wednesday.

“Some have fallen and sustained injury,” he said, stressing fortunately no resident was unattended for a long time.

He presented the recommendation to revise the by-law which had banned smoking on the property, allowing residents to smoke on the property. When the by-law was originally passed over a decade ago, there was a lot of division among council members, with some noting the Manor and Lodge are a home for the residents and they should be allowed to smoke on the property. However, the by-law was brought into effect in 2010 and any resident who wanted to smoke had to leave the grounds.

Mr. Blackmore said the recommendation to allow residents to smoke on the property was primarily a safety issue.

“In the interest of resident safety and recognition that Bonnechere Manor and MIramichi Lodge are the homes for the respective residents, it is recommended that residents be permitted to smoke on the property no closer than nine metres from the entrance of each home,” he said.

This policy would be congruent with the regulations at the County of Renfrew administration property, he added.

In making the recommendation, Mr. Blackmore said the new policy would be reviewed in six months and again at 12 months.

Providing background, he said in 2006 the homes were declared non-smoking facilities and in 2009 a by-law was passed banning residents, staff and the public smoking on the Manor and Lodge properties. The smoking ban was brought in on March 1, 2010.

“The by-law achieved the intended purpose of eliminating smoking on the property,” he said. “A significant portion of residents were motivated to quit smoking.”

Mayor Rob Weir of Greater Madawaska Township asked if the revision applied to staff as well. He was told it was only for residents.

“The premise being this is the residents’ home,” Mr. Blackmore said.

Whitewater Region Mayor Neil Nicholson asked if there were still smoking cessation programs available to residents at no charge. Mr. Blackmore said those programs would continue even if the new policy was approved.

“I want to commend staff for bringing this forward,” Mayor Michael Donohue of Admaston/Bromley, who chairs the Health Committee, said.

He noted a lot of research would have gone into the recommendation. He pointed out smoking is still endemic in the county and is an issue. However, there is also a problem with the residents leaving the property to be able to smoke, he said.

“Having certainty driven by often at Bonnechere Manor there is essentially a repurposed bus stop from the 1970s on the corner of the property,” he said.

This shows the power of the addiction to smoking, he noted.

“We have frail individuals that are residents of Bonnechere Manor or Miramichi Lodge and yet they cannot resist that compulsion and we are requiring them to actually vacate the property,” he said.

The policy is for no smoking in the building, but residents will not have to “endure the odyssey, particularly in the winter of going off property,” he said.

However, visitors and staff will have to go off-property to smoke, he stressed.

“This is the home of these individuals and we need to weight it as such,” Mayor Donohue said.

The issue will be brought forward to the next meeting of council on March 1, exactly 13 years from the date the smoking ban on the properties was brought into place.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader