Premier Alison Redford suggested on Thursday that the province may not have the money to give seniors in long-term care more than one bath a week.

"We're having to deal with a few financial issues. You know, we're in negotiations with doctors and teachers," she said when asked about the issue at a news conference.

"We have a health care budget that hasn't at all been reduced. We're able to maintain the services that are in place now and that's very important. But as we move forward over the next six months, we have significant deficit issues to deal with."

On Thursday, CBC News reported on Randa Wheaton, a Red Deer woman who is giving a Calgary long-term care resident extra showers as a gift for the second Christmas in a row.

Robert Bonyun, 65, has a degenerative brain disease and gets only one bath a week. His wife, Nancy Cameron, couldn't bathe him herself nor could she afford the annual $1,300 cost for an extra bath each week.

Wheaton's gift covered an extra bath every second week; Cameron says she managed to scrape together the remaining money to cover the other weeks.

Cameron believes the government should spend more money, but in the meantime, she is grateful for her friend's gift.

"We'll continue to do whatever we can afford to do to try and make my husband's life a little more comfortable and clean," she said.

In Thursday's question period, Liberal leader Raj Sherman asked the government to treat seniors better than inmates who get one shower at day.

"Mr. Speaker, a question like that doesn't deserve the dignity of an answer from the premier of the province," Health Minister Fred Horne replied angrily.

The associate minister of seniors, George Vanderburg, is reviewing the issue, and Horne said that more information has been requested from Alberta Health Services.

 

With files from the CBC's James Hees