A Nova Scotia woman says she fears her family will lose their home because her husband has developed dementia and the province needs all of his income to pay for his care.
Cathy Weir says her 68-year-old husband, Brian Weir, suddenly developed severe dementia and became a threat to others. He could not remain at their home in Kentville so she looked into institutionalized care at the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Waterville.
Weir said the provincial Department of Community Services is now demanding 100 per cent of her husband's income — money from the Old Age Security Program and the Canada Pension Plan — which had been used to pay the family's mortgage and insurance.
"I just feel I've been backed into a corner," she told CBC News.
"I just don't know how we're going to go on. I work. I intend to work but I do need his income to stay in the home in order to survive."
Weir said her family, including her 13-year-old son Jeffrey, have never lived high off the hog. They bought a modest house in Kentville nine years ago and they own a 12-year-old car. The money from her job as a store clerk covers the family's other bills.
Weir said the government is not considering their son in this matter.
"They won't bend. They said unfortunately, it's policy," she said.
Weir appealed the government's decision, but the appeal was rejected. An administrative reviewer who upheld the decision based on the Services for Persons with Disabilities policy recommended that reviewing an alternative act, known as the Social Assistance Act, may be helpful because it "seems to allow for some flexibility in determining the amount a family unit would be asked to contribute."
Denise Peterson-Rafuse, the Minister of Community Services, said in a statement that the department "will continue working directly" with the family. The department said the appeal process is ongoing.
"Personal income is considered when determining the cost of that individual’s care. The amount is considered carefully and is based on individual circumstances," she said in a statement.
"This is a difficult time for this family and we will continue working directly with them on their particular circumstances."
Weir said whatever the policy, it's hurting her son.
"He shouldn't have to be worrying about this at his age — where we're going to be, what we're going to be doing," he said.
"His whole life has been turned upside down in six months and I just don't think it's fair they do this to families."