Chinese acquisition of B.C. seniors' care chain 'nothing to be concerned about,' expert says

Carole Holmes of the B.C. Seniors Living Association says this deal is nothing new, and until something questionable happens, there is no need for concern.

Expert says public should trust that regulatory bodies will ensure facilities maintain current standards

Retirement Concepts owns 24 seniors care facilities in B.C. and Alberta. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

The federal government recently approved the sale of one of B.C.'s largest seniors' care home chains to a Chinese insurance company, but according to industry consultant Carole Holmes, this shouldn't be cause for concern just yet. 

British Columbia-based Retirement Concepts, which operates about two dozen supportive living facilities, has had a majority interest purchased by Cedar Tree Investment Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group.

But this isn't the first time something like this has happened, according to Holmes, who is also member-at-large and former president of B.C. Seniors Living Association.

"This particular sale is not the only time that we've seen the sale of assets within the seniors industry to foreign entities, albeit it's probably the largest offshore acquisition, so I think that might be what's spurring on concerns," she said.

"We see foreign ownership in other industries," she said. "In healthcare it's a little more sensitive because in many cases we're dealing with vulnerable populations."

Though the sale has been approved federally, B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake has been quoted saying B.C. health authorities have yet to complete the review of the sale or issue operating licenses.

"It's a lot of information that the health authority is looking for because they want assurance that the new owner will uphold all of the terms and conditions of the contract or have a solid understanding of what the regulatory requirements are," Holmes said.

"One needs to assume that if the government is making approvals that they are relying on these various regulatory bodies to do their job and ensure that there is no change to the programs, services and quality of care that is provided," she added.

In late 2016, Retirement Concepts said that under the partnership arrangement, Retirement Concepts will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of the communities, resulting in no change to staffing plans or procedures. 

With files from Daybreak Kamloops and Daybreak South