Province hikes nursing home rates Telegraph Journal May 11, 2012

Social Development Minister Sue Stultz announced Friday the per diem rate seniors are charged in nursing homes will rise to $113 per day from the current charge of $95 over the next three years. Photo: Peter Walsh/Telegraph-Journal Archive

Government-Provincial

FREDERICTON – The New Brunswick government is significantly increasing the daily rates seniors are charged in nursing homes. Social Development Minister Sue Stultz announced in the legislature the per diem rate will rise to $113 per day from the current charge of $95 over the next three years.

The move triggered immediate criticism from the Opposition Liberals and from seniors’ representatives, but Stultz said the vast majority of people living in nursing homes have their costs subsidized by the province.
“The people who are going to pay are only the people who can pay,” Stultz said during question period on Friday.

“We will be paying it for the people who cannot pay. I do not really think that the (Opposition) should put any type of negative feedback out there to the people who are in that situation. We work very, very closely with the nursing home association and all associations pertaining to seniors. We will continue to do that, and we will continue to look after our seniors in New Brunswick.”

Cecile Cassista, executive director of the New Brunswick Seniors’ Coalition, said that while 88 per cent of nursing home residents are subsidized, roughly 800 pay their own daily charges. She said the increase will hit them hard.

“This is only pension money we’re talking about,” Cassista said. “At least some of them may have to apply for a financial subsidy. Cassista said she was shocked by the surprise announcement. “They’re dropping the ball again on seniors,” she said.

“We met with the minister on April 18. She didn’t indicate anything about this. I don’t feel this government is transparent. I feel this is all under the table. The first increase to a maximum of $101 per day from $95 per day will take place on July 1. The remaining increases will come in 2013 and 2014. 

Liberal critic Bertrand LeBlanc said in the legislature that the increase will hit many seniors hard.
“There are about 800 people who are going to be surprised because they are going to get that increase when they go into a nursing home and pay the per diem,” LeBlanc said.

“It affects a lot of people, and it will affect them for the next three years. Something has to be done. If the government is going to be giving care, it should.”

LeBlanc asked how much of the increase will go to boosting hours of care seniors get in the homes. Premier David Alward promised during the 2010 election campaign to increase the care to 3.5 hours from the current 3.1. Stultz said that is still under study.

“We know how to look after our seniors in the province,” she told the House.“We look after them now, and we will look after them in the future. We will ensure that they are kept safe.”