Oromocto man says government won't explain jump in nursing home bills

Jerry Clarke, of Oromocto, says the monthly cost of keeping his wife in a nursing home has jumped $700 this year. He says he’s asked New Brunswick’s Social Development department to explain the 30 per cent increase, but has not been given an answer.

Jerry Clarke says government is taking more money from his military pension, his wife's nursing pension

Jerry Clarke, who’s lived on his own for the past six years on a military pension, says he’s asked New Brunswick’s Social Development department to explain the 30 per cent increase, but has not been given an answer. (CBC)

An Oromocto man says the monthly cost of keeping his wife in a nursing home has jumped $700 this year.

Jerry Clarke, who's lived on his own for the past six years on a military pension, says he's asked New Brunswick's Social Development department to explain the 30 per cent increase, but has not been given an answer. 

"It's hard to make ends meet," he says. 

"I called them, of course, to try to get an explanation. … At any rate, I was just beating my head against the wall." 

Clarke says his wife's nursing pension has paid for her expenses. But a few months ago, Clarke says the government started taking every penny of his wife's pension and a chunk of his. 

Social Development, he says, has not revealed their calculations. 

"Something obviously is happening," says Cecile Cassista, executive director of Coalition for Seniors.

"And I believe that they are quoting, I mean, assessing these people at a much more difficult rate than they used to be." 

Clarke says after 52 years of marriage, he's now cutting corners to pay the bills — including reducing his visits to his wife to twice a week. 

"How do you live from day to day, or calculate what you're going to live on, if you don't know what's coming next. And I guess that sums it up pretty final."

Clarke is dealing with the increased costs even though the provincial government's controversial changes in the assessment of a person's ability to contribute toward their care in a nursing home have yet to take place.

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