On July 9th, 2019, without media releases or formal statements, Health Minister Shandro announced on Twitter that the Affordable Supportive Living Initiative (ASLI) will continue under the UCP government. His announcement was made with a photo op at the Silverado Seniors Village, owned by Park Place Seniors Living. This project was one of the 25 ASLI projects that under the previous government were given the green light to proceed after private operators involved in the program agreed to change their designs at the NDP’s caveat that they needed to include higher levels of care including dementia and long-term care units.
The ASLI program allows the government to provide up to 50% of funding for construction costs, followed by operational costs to run these facilities. Tax payers do not own the buildings, and once the contracts expire tax payers will need to buy the building back at the market price.
Alberta’s continuing care system is an area that has seen aggressive privatization that has resulted in serious consequences for our seniors. Not only has the public option for Long-Term Care (LTC) been eroded, but the private provider appetite to open long-term facilities is limited in favor of the more lucrative and under-regulated designated supportive Living (DSL) facilities, where operators are not required to have registered nursing care available twenty-four hours a day, and resident fees are subject to more ‘market freedom’ for operators to charge patients whatever the market will bear.
LTC is care for those who have the highest needs, and who often require complex care. Legislatively, LTC is supported by stronger legislation and regulation than DSL. LTC facilities require the on-site availability of a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, and medications and other medical supplies are covered without cost to the patient.
DSL has designated care levels from 1, representing the lowest care needs, to 4, representing the highest, with the exception of 4D, for dementia patients. Patients in these facilities do not have medications and other supplies covered, and are not mandated to have 24 hour registered nurse availability, resulting in fewer hours and poorer quality of care for residents. "Eviction by ambulance" is an unfortunate occurrence in supportive living, in which someone becomes ill and is told they must find somewhere else to live because they can no longer be cared for in what they had thought was their home.