Ottawa

Ottawa veterans centre rethinks role as funding shrinks

The Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre is now contemplating a future without veterans as the aging soldiers from World War II and the Korean conflict die — along with the federal government's funding to those veterans housed at the long-term care facility.

Perley Rideau looking to reinvent services for seniors

250 of the 450 residents at the Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre are Second World War or Korean War veterans. (CBC)

The Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre is now contemplating a future without veterans as the aging soldiers from World War II and the Korean conflict die — along with the federal government's funding to those veterans housed at the long-term care facility.

Veterans of peace-keeping and more modern conflicts will receive long-term care like everyone else, under provincial funding.

The Perley Rideau, a sprawling, full-service facility in Ottawa's east end, houses 250 veterans who served in World War II or Korea. There are another 200 non-veteran residents.

With our funding changing over the next several years, it forces us to look at what we want to be in the future.- Akos Hoffer, Perley Rideau's CEO

About $50 million went into the Perley Rideau last year to care for residents. Of that, about $8.5 million came from Veterans Affairs Canada.

Akos Hoffer is the CEO of the Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre. (CBC)
That federal cash pays for the meals and accommodation of the veterans and it also allows the centre to offer extras not often found in other long-term care facilities, including more nursing hours, special arts and music programs, wood shops and the staff to go with them.

But these extra services could be in jeopardy, as the Perley Rideau starts to reinvent itself. The facility is now going through the process of planning its future without any extra federal money.

When the Perley Rideau was first built in the mid-90s, it was constructed as a chronic care hospital.

The hospital designation was shed a few years later, and some X-ray and diagnostic type facilities were mothballed.

Akos Hoffer, Perley Rideau's CEO, is now wondering if his centre could once again provide hospital-type care, and take in elderly patients that take up expensive beds at the Ottawa Hospital.

"Is there a way to provide hospital care on our site? That's certainly a direction the province of Ontario is encouraging larger organizations to think about," said Hoffer.

Hoffer says discussions with the Ottawa Hospital have already begun.

"With our funding changing over the next several years, it forces us to look at what we want to be in the future…It ties with our long range strategy and our vision."

That's a vision without veterans as the main focus and without the money that came with them. 

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About the Author

Julie Ireton

Senior Reporter

Julie Ireton is a senior reporter who works on investigations and enterprise news features at CBC Ottawa. You can reach her at julie.ireton@cbc.ca