Senior residence operators need help
If something doesn’t change soon, the high cost of everything may end up forcing some senior home care operators to shut down.
Counties council met on Aug. 10 with a delegation from the Prescott-Russell Residence Association (ARPR). Association spokesman, Normand Tremblay, told the mayors of the eight municipalities that his people needed help and that the kind of help they needed is the same as it has always been every year.
“It’s the same demand,” Tremblay said. “A request for an increase in the per diem (subsidy).”
ARPR members have received a 1.5 per cent increase every year on their per diem subsidy. The per diem funds come from the province through the counties’ social services department. But Tremblay told counties council that the annual increase gets swallowed up by the rate of inflation on all the operating costs for a subsidized residence, ranging from hydro and heating to meal preparations for some senior clients.
The ARPR has asked in the past for boosting the per diem annual increase to two per cent, but without success. Tremblay noted 42 per cent of most residence operators’ daily operation budgets consist of wages, and that some provincial government policy decisions, like increases to the minimum wage rate, have the greatest impact on those budgets.
Other past senior government-level policy decisions have had a surprise effect on operating costs for residences. Tremblay cited the merging of the federal Goods and Services Tax with Ontario’s provincial sales tax as an example. Some items in a residence operator’s budget that were exempt from the GST are now subject to the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
Tremblay indicated that residence operators need some kind of help, including a bigger increase in the annual per diem subsidy, so they can continue to provide their senior clients with a comfortable and affordable place to live. The concern, he noted, is that no per diem increase will either mean cuts to client services to meet budget demands or some operators forced to shut down. He compared the situation to budgeting for roadworks or other infrastructure.
“If you don’t invest in the (social service) program like you invest in infrastructure, this is what will happen,” he said. “Then you’re left asking the question ‘Where did we go wrong?’”
“I see the problem,” said Warden Guy Desjardins, adding that the counties have forwarded the message on to both MPP Grant Crack and various government ministers.
“Our seniors in the region are really in need (of aid),” said Anne Comtois-Lalonde, UCPR social services director, adding she is working with ARPR on finding solutions to the situation. “And I will continue to work with the association to try to find a way to help.”
Normand Tremblay (centre) outlines to counties council the problems facing members of the Prescott-Russell Residence Association.