New as­sess­ment process for long-term care and com­mu­nity sup­port ser­vices an­nounced

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - News - BY ROSIE MULLALEY [email protected]­gram.com

Se­nior cit­i­zens in this prov­ince will soon no longer have to have their fi­nan­cial as­sets checked when ap­ply­ing for long-term care and com­mu­nity sup­port ser­vices.

Premier Dwight Ball an­nounced Mon­day at Con­fed­er­a­tion Build­ing in St. John’s that gov­ern­ment will elim­i­nate liq­uid as­set test­ing.

Start­ing Nov. 1, those ap­ply­ing for long-term care and com­mu­nity sup­ports will no longer have to pro­vide proof of how much money they have in the bank or what kind of in­vest­ments they have that can be con­verted to cash, in­clud­ing RRSPs, home eq­uity or sav­ings ac­counts.

“It makes sense...,” Ball told a gath­er­ing in the Con­fed­er­a­tion build­ing lobby, where many se­niors groups ap­plauded the an­nounce­ment.

“It’s just an eas­ier, sim­pler process.”

Un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, only peo­ple with liq­uid as­sets be­low a cer­tain level are el­i­gi­ble for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. The thresh­olds range from $3,000 to $10,000 for a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual and $5,500 to $20,000 for a cou­ple. Sig­nif­i­cant doc­u­men­ta­tion also has to be pro­vided.

“It’s some­thing peo­ple have been ad­vo­cat­ing for quite some time,” Ball later told re­porters. “This is a good day for them. No longer will they need to go through a very com­pli­cated sys­tem of de­ter­min­ing what their bank ac­counts would be, get­ting in­for­ma­tion that’s very dif­fi­cult at times for those who are ag­ing in our com­mu­nity.”

As of Feb. 1, 2019, the needs test for spe­cific pro­grams will be elim­i­nated and in­come test­ing will be ex­panded to all ser­vices of­fered by the re­gional health au­thor­i­ties.

El­i­gi­bil­ity will be de­ter­mined through one sin­gle test, the In­come Test. It’s the same test­ing sys­tem that’s widely used in other Cana­dian ju­ris­dic­tions. It’s a tool that cal­cu­lates a per­son’s con­tri­bu­tion to­wards their care based on their in­come.

To qual­ify for fi­nan­cial sup­port, the health au­thor­ity will only look at a per­son’s net in­come from the Canada Rev­enue Agency no­tice of as­sess­ment. New clients will be as­sessed with the in­come test. Ex­ist­ing clients will also be as­sessed with the in­come test when their an­nual re­assess­ment date rolls around.

Of the ap­prox­i­mately 20,000 peo­ple who are as­sessed in the sys­tem, some clients al­ready in the long-term care and com­mu­nity sup­port ser­vice sys­tem may have a higher con­tri­bu­tion when they go through the In­come Test. Ball said they will be grand­fa­thered into the new pro­gram and will not see an in­crease in their per­sonal con­tri­bu­tion. In ad­di­tion, a fi­nan­cial hard­ship pol­icy will be de­vel­oped for both new and ex­ist­ing clients.

Ball said his gov­ern­ment is re­spond­ing to calls for change, to make the ap­pli­ca­tion and el­i­gi­bil­ity process more per­son­cen­tered, client- friendly and trans­par­ent in this prov­ince — in which 19 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion is over the age of 65. Within 10 years, it’s ex­pected to rise to 27 per cent.

“Ev­ery one of us can share an ex­pe­ri­ence of peo­ple we know in our lives who’ve had strug­gles and is­sues around as­sess­ment tools in our prov­ince,” Ball said.

“As a gov­ern­ment, we’ve en­hanced our fo­cus to en­sure that our older per­sons re­main healthy, ac­tive and en­gaged cit­i­zens liv­ing in their own homes and com­mu­ni­ties as much as pos­si­ble.

“Some peo­ple look at (ag­ing) as a neg­a­tive. I con­tinue to say that when we look in our com­mu­ni­ties, some of our most vi­brant com­mu­ni­ties that we have are there be­cause of the con­tri­bu­tion that some of the so-called older per­sons con­tinue to­day to leave.”

Robert Rogers, pres­i­dent of New­found­land and Labrador 50-plus Fed­er­a­tion Inc., thanked Ball and his gov­ern­ment for mak­ing such changes to the fi­nan­cial as­sess­ment process.

“This pol­icy now gives the older per­son fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence when they en­ter long-term care fa­cil­i­ties,” Rogers said.

Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Min­is­ter John Hag­gie, and Chil­dren, Se­niors and So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Lisa Demp­ster, also spoke at the event.

Be­fore it wrapped up, Hag­gie, Demp­ster, Ball and Marie St. Au­bin, pres­i­dent New­found­land and Labrador Fed­er­a­tion of Union re­tirees and Congress of Union Re­tirees of Canada, raised the United Na­tions flag in recog­ni­tion of the Oct. 1 In­ter­na­tional Day of Older Per­sons and Na­tional Se­niors Day.

ROSIE MULLALEY / THE TELEGRAM

Premier Dwight Ball an­nounced a new fi­nan­cial as­sess­ment on Mon­day, Oct. 1 for peo­ple en­ter­ing long-term care fa­cil­i­ties.

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