VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Concerns are being raised about how quickly money promised to improve the care of BC’s seniors will come through.
It’s not happening fast enough for BC Care Providers Association CEO Daniel Fontaine.
He says at least $45 million promised last year by the former BC Liberal government hasn’t been delivered yet.
“The funding was to begin flowing in this fiscal year which ends in March and then covering over the next two to three years in order for us to be able to hire an additional 1,500 new staff across the province, but we are hopeful that we are into 2018, although there’s only a couple months left or so in this fiscal year, that there will be some announcement shortly.”
Fontaine says, before last year’s election, the former Liberal government promised to spend half a billion dollars over four years.
“As of the end of December, it’s my understanding that those dollars have not begun to flow, so as a result, our members have not started hiring any additional care aides. The majority of those staff would be new frontline care aides….There’s about 27,000 individuals across the province that are receiving publicly-funded care and then, there’s about, I believe, 10,000 to 15,000 that are in the home care side, so we know that even with the 1,500 additional staff that we’re going to hire, we aren’t producing enough to even meet those demands.”
He adds many current care workers plan to retire in the next five to 10 years, so they will eventually need to be replaced.
NDP Health Minister Adrian Dix is the keynote speaker at a forum for 160 stakeholders on January 26th in Surrey, so Fontaine is hoping an announcement is made there.
“We have had a provincial election which took a little bit longer than normal to kind of have itself settle in. There has, as well, been a transition of government, as a result of that election, but we are now into January, so we are hoping we hear some announcement –if not before the budget, at the very minimum, when the provincial budget is announced next month. Families and the public and seniors would have anticipated that probably, by now, in January, we’d be in the midst of doing the hiring.”
We’ve reached out for a response from the Health Minister, but Dix hasn’t been available yet.
BC Liberal health critic Mike Bernier says the first installment of funding should have been delivered by now.
“I hear people saying that we’re going to wait until February’s budget. To me that could be a little bit too little –too late because we’re going to be starting in a new fiscal by then.”
Bernier’s also suggesting the NDP government would pay a hefty political price if that money doesn’t show up in February’s budget.