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Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers

Timing of care homes fee hikes criticized

The Yukon Party has kicked off 2021 with more criticism of the Liberal government.

By Whitehorse Star on January 8, 2021

The Yukon Party has kicked off 2021 with more criticism of the Liberal government.

“Thanks to a lump of coal from the Liberals this holiday season, residents in long-term care facilities in the Yukon are now paying more user fees,” stated a news release from the party.

“On Dec. 17, the Liberal government quietly snuck through a new policy to increase fees on seniors at these facilities starting on Jan. 1,” the release added.

“These rate hikes equate to roughly a $2,000 increase per year on some of the territory’s most vulnerable residents on fixed monthly incomes are impacted the most, and the increase is adding stress to those who call such facilities their home.”

The issue was first mentioned late last year during question period in the legislature – and the government was quick to deflect then.

Liberal officials said the change had been previously announced – and were equally quick to deflect the Yukon Party’s latest salvo.

“It’s a new year, but the Yukon Party seems intent to continue to misinform Yukoners as they did throughout 2020,” said senior cabinet communications advisor Matthew Cameron.

“On Nov. 3, 2020 the Government of Yukon announced that it was enhancing programs and services for Yukon seniors and elders, with the goal of supporting them to age in place in their own homes and communities.

“At that time, it was announced that fees for residents of Government of Yukon long-term care homes would increase from $35 per day to $40 per day as of Jan. 1, 2021.

“Despite this modest increase, Yukon’s rate for long-term care remains one of the lowest in Canada,” Cameron added.

“All residents were also directly notified in November of the changes, which also allows for pre-authorized debit payments at a monthly rate, as requested by residents.”

Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers said Thursday he believes the timing was simply wrong for the increase.

Anyone on a fixed income would struggle with the boost, he said, but particularly during the pandemic it wasn’t necessary to add yet another stressor.

The Yukon Party news release stated “usually when rental rates go up in private sector housing, by law, three months’ notice is required. The Liberals only quietly, and without a public notice, issued this new policy a mere 14 days before it was to take effect.”

“The minister claimed in the legislative assembly, residents were given two months’ notice —still short of the three months required by private-sector property owners.

“Regardless, it is clear that the Liberals are disrespecting seniors by significantly increasing long-term care rates on them over the holiday season and during a pandemic.”

Cameron refuted that point, saying “the recent increase pales in comparison to the increase under the former Yukon Party government that saw rates go up from $14 to $17 per day – over $5,000 per year – when Currie Dixon, Brad Cathers, Patti McLeod and Scott Kent were all in government.”

During question period in December, Pauline Frost, the minister of Health and Social Services, said “with regard to the care fees for our seniors, what I can advise is that we still have the lowest rates in the country.

“We provide services to seniors 24 hours a day. We have nurses on staff. We have direct access to physicians. We have care facilities that allow us to provide essential services and necessary supports,” Frost said.

“We need to balance the supports and ensure that we have long term — that the fees of course need to become aligned with the services — appreciating that we still have the lowest rates in the country.

“The monthly rate was requested by the seniors.”

Deborah McNevin, a co-ordinator with the Seniors Action Yukon organization, had a mixed reaction to the news this week.

She said she was glad to see the government is phasing in the increase, when there was a recommendation for a higher rate.

However, McNevin said she is concerned about the impact on senior couples, particularly where one half of the couple is still living at home while the other is in long-term care.

While the increase doesn’t seem like much on a day-to-day basis, it still adds up to nearly $2,000 a year, McNevin pointed out.

That money has to to come from somewhere for people on a fixed income.

“Hopefully it won’t be from food,” she said.

The organization would like to see the government monitor the situation for such couples closely to gauge the impact of the changes on them.

No one from the Yukon NDP was available to comment directly on the situation.

Comments (15)

Up 0 Down 0

Charlie's Aunt on Jan 14, 2021 at 7:08 pm

@ Juniper; I have mentioned this to you before, but while it may be accurate for a few residents who have limited income, no one else to be responsible for their assets & request YT government to do it, it is not the norm for YT government to take all the residents' money, half their house etc. when they enter care. For the most part that is nonsense. If a resident is capable they can hold their own bank account or a personal representative does. The comfort fund is voluntary; it covers trips out, personal toiletries, etc., and a resident can add as much or as little as they like to it within reason, and it can be topped up as it is used. Not sure about TC & WBP but doubt it is different to CRP where residents have a staff assisted bath every 3 days. For those who can manage, they also have a shower available in their private bathroom. I like many of your posts, but please ensure that what you think are facts, apply to all and not a few individual cases.

Up 19 Down 0

DA on Jan 12, 2021 at 3:09 pm

I'm grateful our care facilities aren't from private/for profit organizations. One might easily pay $120/day if that were the case!

Up 7 Down 4

Vlad on Jan 11, 2021 at 5:17 pm

@ Pikachku - I don't think the political correctness will help him that much, lost my vote.

Up 31 Down 5

Juniper Jackson on Jan 9, 2021 at 6:08 pm

The gov can charge $800 a day if they want, but if people can't pay it, you and me get to pay it. They don't throw old people out on the street.. (yet) For the most part, the government takes everything a senior has, their pensions, half their house if they have one, everything, and give them back $50 to $100 a month "comfort' money. The only thing I don't like about that? Inmates only get 2 baths a week. Your family can come and give you a shampoo if they choose. My friend died in Whistle Band in Dec. He had the best care ever, so very kind, thoughtful, loving and the facility was beautiful to live in. When you are sick and dying, do you carp about the money? I won't. Just never, ever turn these facilities over to private enterprise where profits are the name of the game.. and covid is rampant. Look at BCs public run facilities, Trudeau sold them to the Chinese 4 years ago and the Government operated, and then the exclusive Private.

I'm 80..if the Liberals are going to start making cutbacks to our senior/assisted living care facilities, will you wait just a few years? I'm sure I won't last much longer.

Up 25 Down 0

drum on Jan 9, 2021 at 3:58 pm

Am I right in saying that no one who needs long term care would ever be turned away from Whistle Bend, Copper Ridge Place or Thompson Centre if they could not pay the monthly fee? Some people only have OAS and live in these facilities with the same services as those who pay the full price. Am I wrong? Same for people in Senior Housing - Rent 25% of their monthly income no matter how little it is - we are so lucky to be in the Yukon. Toronto for profit extended care facilities can cost over $5000.00 per month - that is just the basic care - the rates keep getting more and more. ie if you want a private room which we all have in the Whitehorse facilities.

Up 25 Down 0

Alice Cyr on Jan 9, 2021 at 11:58 am

Alzheimer’s patients quite literally cannot tell day from night and immediate care is necessary 24 hours a day. Had long term care in Copper Ridge not been available when we lived in a cabin at Tagish and I was his sole caregiver I would also have soon needed long term care or have been in jail for murder. People need to set aside money during their working years and be alerted to the possibility of paying for 24 hour care. Do not assume that government will take care of everything. We need to be responsible for taking care of ourselves and we are fortunate in Yukon to have excellent facilities.

Up 7 Down 11

Just Checkin on Jan 9, 2021 at 11:56 am

Can anyone confirm if it is true that Currie was seen at YVR over the holidays??

Up 24 Down 5

Wobbling on Jan 9, 2021 at 5:07 am

@TMYK I don’t think it was quoted appropriately. Yukon party didn’t raise it from $14 to $17 a day. They raised it from $18 to $35 a day. It’s the difference in math the article wrote. The liberal party raised it by $5 the Yukon party raised it by $17. It’s confusing how it was presented in the article.

Up 20 Down 2

Nathan Living on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:52 pm

By the way, seniors looking for the free Shingrix vaccine may be upset that its not available because not much has been done after the news release in the fall.
Covid is the priority but there is no Shingrix vaccine which was to be rolled out Jan 01.

Up 14 Down 0

Charlie's Aunt on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:28 pm

No idea how many years ago Cameron is referring to with fees going from $14-$17.
Not exactly sure of year but sometime around 2012-2013 fees for ML were $18 and CRP was $21. Someone had really dropped the ball by not having a set COLA increase every year and Doug Graham hiked the fees to $35 for all. That almost doubled the fees for ML residents overnight. We do have great care and our rates are still cheaper than most, but libs haven't learned a lesson from past mistakes on how to implement an increase. People enter the homes with an expected fee and employing a COLA increase every year would be expected without these short notice surprises.

Up 15 Down 10

Pikachu on Jan 8, 2021 at 8:37 pm

Speaking of the Yukon Party, I heard leader Currie Dixon on CKRW today denouncing Trump for all the violence in Washington, so good on him for that! Then on the national news a short while later, Trudeau was saying the same thing, so I must say, I like that Dixon and Trudeau are on the same page. I was worried for a while that Dixon was a true blue conservative. Thank god he isn't. Now if he would just get rid of Cathers or at least shut him up, he would have my vote!

Up 30 Down 5

Moose101 on Jan 8, 2021 at 8:28 pm

Consider yourselves lucky we are in the Yukon. My mom is in standard care home in Ontario - $3500.00 a month!

Up 20 Down 6

BnR on Jan 8, 2021 at 5:26 pm

For god sakes Brad, what are you now, an NDPer?
Money doesn't grow on trees.

Up 51 Down 20

Don't even start..... on Jan 8, 2021 at 3:40 pm

I have people very close to me in care. Yukon Party, don't even start. The care our seniors get here is second to none, and nothing comes without cost. And when we read about your increases when you were in power, SHAME.

Up 48 Down 12

TMYK on Jan 8, 2021 at 3:21 pm

So the Yukon Party increased rates from $14 to $17 a day. Since the Liberals have been in it has increased to $40 a day. It's hilarious that the Liberal communications advisor Matthew Cameron thought this was a good point to make.

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