Ms Pastoor: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Health and Wellness stated on May 20 of ’08 in this Legislature that “obviously, we need more long-term care facilities,” which gave me great hope. However, two days ago in Lethbridge families were told that the long-term care facility operated by Extendicare would be closed by July 1 of 2009.
To the Minister of Health and Wellness: why is the minister allowing this situation in Lethbridge, where Extendicare is closing 120 long-term care facility beds in spite of his statement that long-term care facilities are needed in the province?
Mr. Liepert: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member is correct that the facility in Lethbridge, which is quite aged, is going to close. However, what the hon. member did not mention is the fact that there is a replacement centre going up. It’s a designated assisted living centre. As a matter of fact, the former Chinook health region has one of the leading models on how we can have seniors live in facilities that are not always long-term care.
Ms Pastoor: Definitions are clearly needed to be understood in this province. DAL is not long-term care. Is this what the minister was referring to on May 20 in ’08, when he said that “we need to look at removing barriers that exist today for private operators to also participate in the delivery of long-term care?”
Does the minister want to shut down the pre-existing facilities in order to create more demand for profit long-term care?
Mr. Liepert: Mr. Speaker, I know where this member is coming from. This member believes in a philosophy that as soon as you can, you stick a senior citizen into long-term care in an area that they don’t necessary feel the most comfortable in. It’s a philosophical difference. What we are going to do in this province is provide facilities, a variety of facilities, where our seniors can live in dignity where they want to live, not where the opposition wants them to be.
Ms Pastoor: Absolutely, totally wrong. You’re not getting it.
When long-term care was deregulated – housing and care are two different things. I’m talking about care. What is the minister’s response to the residents of the current long-term care facility who were assessed as needing care beyond the level that can be delivered by a designated assisted living facility that won’t even be completed by the time the long-term care facility closes?
Mr. Liepert: Mr. Speaker, this member can get all worked up into a sweat about it, but there are other long-term care facilities in
Lethbridge, so the health region has said that they will ensure that these particular patients are looked after. There are many facilities in southern Alberta that can accommodate the needs of these citizens.
Alberta Hansard, October 22, page #1473