Se­nior re­si­dence ope­ra­tors need help

Vision (Canada) - - News - GREGG CHAMBERLAIN gregg.chamberlain@eap.on.ca

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.”

—pho­to Gregg Chamberlain

Nor­mand Trem­blay (centre) out­lines to coun­ties coun­cil the pro­blems fa­cing mem­bers of the Pres­cott-Rus­sell Re­si­dence As­so­cia­tion.

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