Budget 2023 will increase funding for the continuing care system by $570 million, a 15 per cent increase from last year.
“Alberta seniors and persons with disabilities deserve high-quality care in their homes and communities, close to their family and friends. This significant investment in Budget 2023 for the continuing care system will support care and services for Albertans to increase their independence and quality of life,” said Health Minister Jason Copping in a statement.
The province says the funding will make the continuing care system more sustainable and responsive and will help to address existing pressures in continuing care homes and in acute care by increasing:
• The proportion of Albertans who receive care and supports through home and community care rather than through facility-based care.
• The hours of care for continuing care home residents.
• Capacity for Albertans able to receive palliative and end-of-life care at home or in a community hospice.
• Access to services and supports in rural areas.
• Supports for caregivers.
Targeted funding will shift care to the community, enhance workforce capacity, increase choice and innovation, advance high-quality care, and respond to the facility-based continuing care review, and palliative and end-of-life care feedback.
The $4.3 billion in operational funding for Alberta’s continuing care system includes:
• $2 billion for community care, an increase of $301 million or 17.7 per cent from 2022-23.
• $1.4 billion for continuing care homes, an increase of $120 million or 9.4 per cent from 2022-23.
• $893 million for home care, an increase of $149 million or 20 per cent from 2022-23.
Budget 2023 also includes $89.5 million in capital funding in 2023-24 and a total investment of $310 million over three years.
Since 2018, continuing care capacity has increased by 2,450 spaces, and the new funding will further expand capacity.
The province says the need for continuing care will significantly increase over the next 10 years. By 2046, one in five Albertans will be 65 years of age or older, making up more than 1.2 million of the total population.
NDP seniors critic Lori Sigurdson said for four years, seniors have paid more and received less care under the UCP.
“When the pandemic struck continuing care, this same government refused to invest in safety and ensuring proper staffing protocols. A recent Auditor General report showed more seniors in care got sick, and more died, because the UCP refused to invest when it mattered most. This is a shameful record,” Sigurdson said in a statement.
She said now they’re rushing to play catch up ahead of an election.
“The UCP didn’t act when it mattered most, and their promises shouldn’t be trusted now. Especially when Budget 2023 includes a hike on accommodation fees in continuing care, and continues to deny seniors access to a non-partisan advocate to raise their voice.
She said the NDP will ensure proper care standards, better support for staff, and more safety and accountability.
“We will bring back the Seniors’ Advocate, bring back doctors, and we will protect seniors’ pensions.”