Province blasted over ‘dire’ funding issue for seniors

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Local activist raises alarm on lack of support for self-managed care

INNISFAIL – Alarm bells have been sounded hard and heavy by a prominent and respected community activist over the “dire” lack of government funding for self-managed care for seniors in Innisfail and throughout Central Alberta.

Danielle Klooster, a longtime Penholder and former town councillor, says residents in Central Alberta have been ignored and denied funding.

“They need to recognize the dire situation that the public health system is in,” said Klooster, spokesperson for families with Community Care Cottages, a company that provides private long-term care in Central Alberta. “(We want the government) to give us access to this self-managed care program. We qualify, we deserve it and others are receiving it.”

Self-managed care is a provincial program for seniors and others who need specialized home care. The program provides funding to assist individuals and families in staying in their homes, and receiving the necessary care and help they require.

Klooster held a press conference with Brian Jean, leader of the provincial Wildrose Opposition, on April 7 in Red Deer to address these concerns.

“We’ve been told the program doesn’t exist, we’ve been told that there’s no money left, and we’ve been told they don’t qualify because (residents) are not in their own homes,” she said. “They are in their own home. They are paying room and board and that’s the place they’ve chosen to live.”

They have repeatedly asked Alberta Health Services and continuing care offices to explain the situation, said Klooster.

“We can’t get answers or we get denied or we just get ignored,” she said.

“Now we are asking the official Opposition to help us advocate to the government to implement this program they have,” she added. “Other Albertans are accessing (the program), they’re living in group environments and they are accessing this funding. For some reason we are not being given that same opportunity.”

“The reason we’re using private care is because the public system is so broken.”

Jean met with residents and family members at Community Care Cottages on April 7. Later that day, he was in Innisfail and spoke with media about Klooster’s concerns.

“It’s very important that we treat each area of the province equally and treat them fairly with other areas,” said Jean. “I believe right now we have a model that is very successful to provide seniors a good quality of life, a better quality of life and better supervision than what they can have oftentimes in other environments, especially relating to 100 per cent government funded long-term care beds,” he added, noting the problem isn’t just a lack of funding.

“Let’s remember we are spending more money than any other government across Canada, so it’s not a lack of money, it’s a lack of good management and good use of those resources,” said Jean.

Meanwhile, Jean was in Innisfail on April 8 to speak to supporters of Unite the Right. He spoke on a number of issues, including the carbon tax, health care, crime and the Unite the Right initiative.

He was joined by Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Don MacIntyre.

“The reason for these town halls is to gauge the sentiment of the people, to hear what their concerns are and to have them vote on a few questions,” said MacIntyre.

Danielle Klooster, local community activist

“We can’t get answers or we get denied or we just get ignored.”

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Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean is a reporter with the Innisfail Province, joining the newspaper in 2013. She covers Penhold municipal politics, news and community events as well as sports in and around the town as well as in Innisfail.