New Brunswick

Brian Gallant halts nursing home fee changes

The New Brunswick government is not moving forward with contentious reforms to the province's nursing home policy.

Seniors' coalition pleased Gallant "listened"

The New Brunswick government is not moving forward with contentious reforms to the province's nursing home policy, according to Premier Brian Gallant.

The government announced in the March budget it would look at seniors' bank accounts and investments when calculating how much they can pay for care. The cost cap would also be raised to $175 from $113.

New Brunswick's current maximum daily nursing home rate is already the highest in the country at $113.

"Taking this policy off the table does not mean that our challenges go away," Gallant said in a statement.

This is the latest sign of movement of Premier Brian Gallant's government softening its stance on the policy on nursing home fees.

The reforms were opposed by seniors' groups.

Cecile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents Rights, said she is very pleased with the announcement.

"That money belongs to the seniors of this province, and I'm so happy that the premier took a step back, took a serious look, and listened," said Cassista.   

Cassista had been traveling around the province, campaigning against the reforms.

"The people of New Brunswick have spoken. I have traveled this province with 43 meetings, and let me tell you, it was all worth it."

Gallant and Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers announced on Wednesday that the changes were being suspended.

The two politicians met with three seniors groups for 90 minutes last week.

The Gallant government announced recently it was creating a committee on seniors' issues. Rogers said Wednesday the new seniors' council will work with government on a strategy aimed at keeping seniors in their homes longer. 

Gallant said on Wednesday that the seniors groups have shown a willingness "to develop progressive policies" that will help address the provincial government's financial problems and improve the quality of care provided to seniors.

Rogers said the planned reforms caused "significant" concern.

"While the policy was designed to make care more affordable for the majority of seniors, it is clear that the announcement of our intent to change the policy caused a significant amount of concern for seniors," Rogers said in a statement.

"This was not our intention nor was it consistent with our priority of helping seniors and their families."

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