Province urged to overhaul funding of seniors lodges in face of aging population
Jason Van Rassel, Calgary Herald
Renovations to many of Alberta’s aging seniors lodges are underway, but municipalities are calling on the province to overhaul the rules that govern how the facilities are funded.
“There should be demonstrative partnership for the seniors lodge program,” said Linda Sloan, president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
AUMA members will debate a resolution at the organization’s convention in Edmonton later this month urging the provincial government to assume equal responsibility for any deficits incurred by lodges.
Prior to 1994, deficits were split 50-50 between the provinces and municipalities, but the government changed the cost-sharing arrangement to a capped grant instead.
The result, Sloan said, is increasing costs being downloaded to local governments at a time when demand for seniors housing is poised to rise as the population ages.
“We’re approaching, in the next two decades, an increasing number of people who will need affordable seniors housing,” she said.
It’s expected one in four Canadians will be over 65 years old in 20 years, compared to the current rate of one in seven.
The publicly funded lodge system is unique to Alberta and is designed to accommodate otherwise healthy and independent seniors who can no longer maintain a household.
Local management boards established by the province fund lodges, which draw their budgets from fees charged to residents, municipalities and a provincial program that provides a subsidy for each resident.
Like his urban counterpart, the president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties said there’s a need to look at how the system is governed now, before the grey wave hits.