Social Development Minister Sue Stultz has announced a new nursing home infrastructure plan that will create 704 specialized care beds and 354 nursing home beds.

Stultz announced the new plan at a news conference in Fredericton on Thursday.

"Creating hundreds more specialized care beds will enable more seniors to move from hospitals into long-term care," Stultz said in a statement.

"These beds will help alleviate waiting lists and meet the needs of seniors who do not need full-time nursing care."

The new plan will cost $329 million compared to the $439 million the former Liberal government's plan would have cost, according to Stultz.

Nursing home plans

  • Mill Cove Nursing Home will be replaced with a new 65-bed facility
  • Victoria Glen Manor in Perth Andover will be replaced with a 60-bed facility
  • Villa Maria in Saint Louis-de-Kent will be replaced with a 60-bed facility
  • Central New Brunswick Nursing Home in Boiestown will be replaced with a 30-bed facility
  • Dalhousie Nursing Home will be repaired
  • Mount Saint Joseph Nursing Home in Miramichi will be repaired
  • A 30-bed facility in Neguac will be constructed
  • Two 60-bed nursing homes will be built in greater Moncton
  • Villa du Repos in Moncton will be expanded to include 60 additional beds
  • Carleton Manor in Woodstock will be expanded to include 30 new beds
  • A 30-bed nursing home will be built in Fredericton
  • Kiwanis Nursing Home in Sussex will have a 30-bed expansion
  • Passamaquoddy Lodge in Saint Andrews will continue with upgrades

"The taxpayers of New Brunswick entrusted our government with the responsible management of our province’s finances and we take that responsibility very seriously," Stultz told the news conference.

Stultz announced a review of nursing homes a year ago, putting on hold many projects that had been previously announced by the former Liberal government.

The Graham government had pledged a five-year, $443-million infrastructure plan that would have built two new nursing homes, replaced 11 nursing homes and renovated 31 buildings.

That 2009 plan would have created 700 new nursing home spots.

However, Stultz said the Progressive Conservative government wanted to review those projects considering the massive deficit facing the province.

Stultz announced in July that almost $6 million had been saved by reviewing the construction and renovation plans for the nursing homes in Saint John, Stanley, Edmundston and the Nepisiguit/Chaleur region.

Stultz said the full review was completed last October but had to go to cabinet. The Opposition Liberals called on Stultz to release the report several times in recent months.

There have been recent complaints of mould outbreaks at nursing homes and overcrowding at nursing homes.

New Brunswick's deficit is projected to be $471 million in 2011-12.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs will release the 2012-13 budget on March 27.

Opposition Leader Victor Boudreau said the Alward government is playing politics with this new nursing home infrastructure plan.

He said the only two nursing home projects that were downgraded from new homes to renovating existing facilities are in opposition ridings.

"The Tories have decided to put politics into this and cut the replacement projects in Liberal ridings," he said.

Those nursing homes are in Miramichi and Dalhousie.

The Dalhousie Nursing Home will receive $2.2 million in renovations and the Mount Saint Joseph Nursing Home will receive $8.2 million in repairs.

Demographic review

The provincial government also conducted a demographic review so it could take into consideration future trends when it developed its nursing home infrastructure plan.

Stultz said the analysis showed the future demand for long-term care services would be the most acute in the Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John regions.

Projected need for new nursing home beds by 2021
Moncton315
Saint John202
Fredericton265
Edmundston13
Restigouche57
Chaleur122
Miramichi88
Acadian Peninsula0
Total1,062

She said there is also a growing need for services for people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

New Brunswick has the second-largest proportion of seniors in Canada.

The social development minister said the number of seniors in New Brunswick is expected to double during the next 20 years.

The government's review estimates that 1,062 additional residential beds will be required by 2021.

Of those new beds, 315 will be needed in Moncton, 265 in Fredericton and 202 in Saint John.

Meanwhile, there will be 57 new beds needed in Restigouche, 13 new beds in Edmundston, and no new beds needed in the Acadian Peninsula.

Design standards review

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Opposition Leader Victor Boudreau said the Alward government is playing politics in its new long-term care strategy. (CBC) (CBC)

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure also performed a design standards review as a part of the overall nursing home infrastructure plan.

The analysis was intended to examine ways to cut construction costs without having an impact on the quality of life for the residents and staff, the durability of the facility, or any operating efficiencies.

According to the provincial government, the review considered alternate building design layouts, reducing space in non-resident areas, examining the maximum number of residents in each house and "reducing architectural, mechanical and electrical performance standards."

The review found 98 revisions in the nursing home infrastructure plan.

The provincial government says some of those revisions included using a design template instead of a custom design.

It also increased the maximum number of residents per house to 30 and reduced non-resident space by as much as 17 per cent. The review also recommended cutting back on architectural features.

The Opposition Liberals criticizing these design changes, saying the design reforms do not make long-term financial sense.

"This is clear that David Alward is cheapening the construction of our nursing homes," Boudreau said.

"There may be a short-term gain here but that means nursing homes will need to be replaced sooner, it will cost more to heat, it is not the smart way to go."