Many privately run seniors' homes in Quebec still without sprinkler systems
Homes have until December 2020 to install sprinklers under rules brought in after L'Isle-Verte tragedy
Many privately run homes for the elderly in Quebec are still not equipped with automatic sprinklers nearly three years after a fire at a L'Isle-Verte seniors residence left 32 dead.
The residences have until December 2020 to comply with rules enacted by the provincial government after the tragedy that make sprinklers mandatory.
Seniors' homes that accommodate a maximum of nine people and facilities with only one floor that do not include more than eight lodgings are exempt from the new rules.
Funds were set aside at the time the rules were introduced to help residences cover the cost of installing sprinklers and 181 applications for financial assistance have been approved in the past year.
Some residences, however, continue to hesitate.
"Owners are concerned that the government might change its mind regarding certain types of seniors' residences and that's leading some to put the brakes on investing in sprinklers. We hope the government doesn't change its mind," said Sylvain Dufresne, president of the Association of Quebec Fire Chiefs.
Another issue is the application form for financial assistance, said the president of l'Association québécoise de défense des droits des personnes retraitées et préretraitées.
"What we hear most is that the program is complicated and smaller residences have difficulty completing the form," Judith Gagnon said.
Others have applied for financial assistance and are still waiting for approval to proceed with the work.
"We can't start the work until we get the OK from the various levels of government, so we're stuck," said Véronique Leblanc, the owner of Résidence l'Harmonie in Shawinigan.
Yves Desjardins, general manager of the Regroupement québécois des residences pour aînés, said the high cost of sprinkler systems could force some homes to close.
With files from Radio-Canada