Over the next four years, $400 million in operational funding will be allocated for new publicly funded continuing care beds, the provincial government announced Friday.
More than 6,000 beds will be added or replaced to expand and upgrade Alberta’s publicly funded continuing care facilities. Twenty-four communities were identified through a procurement process that requires operators to pay for the capital cost of building new beds.
This year, 343 beds will be added, including 10 in Red Deer, 190 in Calgary, 13 in Edmonton, 25 in High Level, 31 in Medicine Hat, 15 in Valleyview and 59 in Westlock. This is in addition to the 2,600 beds added in 26 communities in 2020, which included 150 in Red Deer and 30 in Ponoka.
“Adding new beds to the system ensures that Albertans will be able to reside in a facility that provides them the right care at the right time, rather than at a hospital,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, Alberta Health Services president and CEO.
“This increases our acute care capacity and ensures that the health-care needs of all Albertans are met in an appropriate setting.”
Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said the previous government cancelled the Alberta Supportive Living Initiative program in its first year in office and “didn’t have a plan to add new beds to the system or replace dilapidated facilities with shared rooms that don’t allow for privacy.”
“We’re fixing that by bringing back a new and improved version of ASLI that will take care of our seniors and provide the high-quality care they deserve,” said Shandro.
NDP Health Critic David Shepherd said Alberta needs to bring more continuing care beds online and expand access to quality homecare.
“Shandro said nothing today about what levels of care will be provided with this funding,” said Shepherd.
“We know that supportive living level 4, and dementia care, will be in great demand in the coming years. I hope he will focus this spending on projects that meet Albertans’ health needs, and not simply ones that maximize the operator’s profit margins with lower levels of care.”