A crowd of about 150 gathered outside Valley Park Manor Thursday afternoon to protest the upcoming closures of the centre and the Red Deer Nursing Home.
Standing with signs that read “Fix it don’t close it” and “Stop nickle and diming my grandparents into poverty,” it was the second time this month that the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees held a rally to send the message that they are unhappy with Alberta Health Services’ decision to shut the doors on both of long-term care facilities.
The crowd erupted into a cheer every time a passing driver honked to show support. “It’s not a nursing home, it’s her home,” Tudy Fowlie said, speaking on behalf of her aunt, Eileen Gannon. “It’s not about a new building, it’s about where home is.”
Gannon, 82, has been a Valley Park Manor resident for five years. She, along with other residents, will be moved to Extendicare Canada’s new Michener Hill building when it opens in September.
Once residents are moved into the new facility, Alberta Health Services has said it will close the manor and nursing home, both of which were built in the 1960s, because the centres are in poor shape.
“I think this one, they maybe need a few renovations,” Fowlie said of Village Park Manor. “But I don’t think it’s in bad shape and not fixable.”
The group was concerned about the two public facilities being replaced with one private centre, which will only introduce five extra long-term care beds to the city.
“We are here to defend the rights of our seniors, our people, our families, our neighbours that have been paying taxes for years to keep this facility open and to have publicly run health care, long-term care,” Philipia Bates Renouf, AUPE vice-president, said into a bullhorn.
She further criticized the provincial government’s decision to close the centres in a time when some 300 seniors in Central Alberta are waiting to get into a long-term care facility.
“It’s common sense for these facilities to remain open,” said Sam Denhann, president of the Central Alberta Council of Aging.
“If it can reduce or eliminate the waiting list, what’s the problem with that?”
A similar rally was held on June 8 out front of the Red Deer Nursing Home.
Valley Park Manor and the Red Deer Nursing Home have a combined 215 long-term care beds. Michener Hill, scheduled to open in September, will have 220 long-term care beds as well as 60 supportive living suites.