Bonds endorsed, with caution

The province’s plan to sell bonds to raise money to provide care and build housing for seniors is being praised.

The province’s plan to sell bonds to raise money to provide care and build housing for seniors is being praised.

But using that money for public/private partnership projects would be “totally unacceptable,” says the president of the Central Alberta Council on Aging.

Last week, the province announced it wants to raise $100 million by selling Alberta Capital Bonds to help build long-term care and supportive living facilities, lodges and group homes for seniors.

“Bonds are good as long as they are spent on public buildings and public services — not P3s to create a profit and opportunity for some other corporation,” said Sam Denhaan.

Alberta Capital Bonds are expected to be available for purchase from financial institutions and investment advisors by mid February.

That means before money is even raised, private companies like banks and investment businesses will be benefiting, he said.

“What about Alberta Treasury Branch? They could be the dealers and it wouldn’t cost anything.”

Public health-care advocates have always supported using government bonds to build infrastructure such as hospitals and long-term care. But the province seems set on privatizing seniors care, he said.

“It is so interwoven with private interest.”

And transparency to show how public money is being spent is lacking, Denhaan said.

Alberta Capital Bonds will support the province’s Aging in the Right Place vision to improve the availability of seniors accommodations.

Housing and supports available through capital bond funds are expected to become operational in 2012.

Final details, including interest rates, will be provided closer to the time the bonds are issued.

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