Kentville woman dreads bill for husband's care
Cathy Weir says clawback would mean hardship for her and son
A woman in Kentville, N.S., expects to be hit with a big bill from the province to cover the expenses for her husband, who is institutionalized with dementia.
Cathy Weir says that would mean giving up income she needs to live with her 13-year-old son.
"They did say that I'd probably be getting a bill shortly," she told CBC News. "Just to walk to the mailbox and see if there's a bill upsets me."
Weir's 68-year-old husband, Brian, is living at the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Waterville. She says when her husband was admitted, the government said it wanted all of his income — Old Age Security Program and Canada Pension Plan — to pay for his care.
But that money pays the mortgage on the home the Weirs bought nine years ago. Cathy says her income as a store clerk isn't enough to support her and son Jeffrey.
Weir says when she last met with officials, she was offered two options, but she says both options meant taking all of her husband's income. She refused the terms.
She says she's been waiting nearly four weeks to hear from a government official about her family's situation.
"Nobody's been in contact whatsoever," she said.
Brian Weir has been living at the centre since late April. So Cathy Weir expects a hefty bill when it arrives.
Both Weir and her neighbours are worried about the effect the situation is having on Jeffrey.
"For a child to go through this is absolutely unneccesary. There is no reason why the government can't do something about this. And why they're dragging their feet on this I just don't understand," said Jane Lovely, a family friend.
Denise Peterson-Rafuse, minister of community services, said the government has "stepped up" to ensure Brian Weir receives proper care.
"I do know the staff have worked very hard to make this as comfortable and workable as possible," she said.
The province no longer takes the assets — money and homes — from people needing care. For people like Cathy Weir, who have few assets, it still presents a hardship.
Peterson-Rafuse said it would cost millions of dollars if the Weirs and similar families didn't have to hand over the disabled person's income.
Both opposition parties say some common sense is needed and that the cookie-cutter approach to policy isn't working.