258 new personal care home beds promised in Winnipeg, Steinbach, Carman

Three personal care homes in southern Manitoba will get as many as 258 new beds between them, the province announced Friday.

Progressive Conservatives promised 1,200 new PCH beds over eight years during campaign

Manitoba Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced up to 258 new personal care home beds for centres in Winnipeg, Steinbach and Carman, Man. (Corbis)

Three personal care homes in southern Manitoba will get as many as 258 new beds between them, the province announced Friday.

The beds will be publicly owned and operated and split between centres selected based on need in Winnipeg, Steinbach and Carman, Man., Manitoba Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said.

New beds will run the province roughly $133,000 apiece, Goertzen added. The Progressive Conservative government campaigned on a promise to contribute to the construction of 1,200 new beds throughout the province over eight years.

Existing centres Rest Haven Personal Care Home in Steinbach and Boyne Lodge are both on the list.

Rest Haven will receive up to 140 new beds and Boyne Lodge will be expanded to include up to 10 new beds, 70 replacement beds and up to 30 new transitional care beds, the province said.

An unfinished project, the Bridgwater Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, will also be developed to include up to 108 new beds.

The project was announced in 2015 by the then-NDP government but hasn't yet been completed.

Goertzen said the province will continue to look for opportunities to create more beds at other centres in the province.

He wouldn't rule out the possibility of private beds.

"I mean, we'll have different models that are going to come forwad. These are not private licence PCHs [personal care homes] but there might be proposals that might exist that are private-licence PCHs," he said.

"We've essentially said to communities be creative. Come forward in terms of the different kinds of ideas that you have. We're not close-minded to the different models. Ultimately we want to see people get care."

'Failed attempt at playing catchup': NDP

The announcement follows another announcement earlier this year when the province scrapped more than $1 billion worth of planned health-care facilities across the province.

Among the axed projects: a personal care home in Lac du Bonnet, Man., estimated to cost around $32 million.

NDP health critic Matt Wiebe criticized the Tories' Friday announcement as "a failed attempt at playing catchup" for those and other cancelled projects.

"The Pallister government canceled hundreds of PCH beds barely six months ago, causing deep confusion and uncertainty in communities across the province and leaving millions of dollars, that had been raised by communities in Winnipeg and Lac du Bonnet, unspent," Wiebe said in a release on Friday.

"The Pallister government is only focused on the bottom line not the actual needs of communities. Communities were forced to drop important projects for their communities because they could not meet the government's arbitrary funding target."

Wiebe was also critical of the Tories' investment in the Bridgwater Personal Care Home, calling it a "scaled-back" version of what the previous NDP government announced.

Goertzen said the Bridgwater home is actually a good example of how the government has been spending smarter.

"This is, of course, one of the projects that initially had come forward but it came forward at an economic price that was a lot higher. Now they've gone back and done some work and worked with us in terms of finding a price that meets the needs for not only those who need to be in the personal care home but taxpayers who are going to be paying for the PCHs," he said.

He added the province will look for projects to create more beds specifically in the Interlake.