Montreal

Waiting lists growing for Quebec seniors needing long-term care

Since the Coalition Avenir Québec came to power last October, the list of people waiting for government-run long-term care facilities has grown by 10 per cent.

CAQ minister maintains government will increase services for seniors

A Radio-Canada report has found a 10 per cent increase in seniors waiting for long-term care needs since the CAQ government came to power last year. (Myriam Fimbry/Radio-Canada)

Since the Coalition Avenir Québec came to power last October, the list of people waiting for government-run long-term care facilities has grown by 10 per cent, Radio-Canada has found.

This means there are currently more than 3,000 people waiting for services. 

During the provincial election campaign last year, the CAQ promised to overhaul the province's long-term care system. It promised the creation of smaller and "more humane" homes for seniors dubbed "Maisons des aînés."

Marguerite Blais, minister responsible for seniors and informal caregivers, said the government still plans on constructing the new homes. They plan to house 2,600 seniors between now and 2022.

Blais blames the issue on a lack of action from the previous Liberal government. 

"It's because the previous government did not develop places. It's not complicated," she said. 

Seniors Minister Marguerite Blais blames the previous Liberal government for the increase in the number of people waiting for long-term care. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC)

"The previous government developed 285 places in four years." 

Blais said that, on top of the new homes, the government will continue to renovate and build new long-term care facilities, known in French as CHSLDs.

But the challenge may be even more urgent than anticipated. According to data compiled by Radio-Canada, the waiting list to obtain a place in a CHSLD increased from 2,766 to 3,029 people between October 2018 and August 2019, an increase of 10 per cent. 

In the Bas-Saint-Laurent area, the number of people waiting has quadrupled, while the Côte-Nord has seen an increase of 240 per cent. 

Between the three facilities in the region, the Montérégie is the area hit hardest in the province. In total, there are 696 people waiting for a place in a CHSLD, which is about a quarter of the people waiting provincewide, despite the fact that the region's population only makes up 18 per cent of the province's. 

Jade St-Jean, spokesperson for the region's health board, said the area is coping with an aging population.

 Large increase in seniors 75 and older

"Between 2011 and 2016, we had a rise of about 21 per cent in seniors aged 75 and over, whereas the average in Quebec is about 15 per cent," said St-Jean. 

"We would need 100 places more per year to respond to the need." 

In the meantime, St-Jean said the board has increased its home care services, with the goal of keeping seniors in their homes as long as possible.  

"In the last two years, we have doubled the number of home care hours," St-Jean said. 

Laval is also effected. The list there has more than doubled to 287 people. 

Régis Pearson, program director for seniors at Laval's regional health authority, said there is a new CHSLD under construction that will house an additional 232 people. That project is slated to finish in two years. It's a long-term lease of more than $75 million. 

Pearson said the numbers are not necessarily what they seem though. 

"It has increased the number of people who can be kept at home and sometimes their name remains on the waiting list for a place in a CHSLD," Pearson said.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Davide Gentile and Daniel Boily

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