‘Shameful’ mistreatment of seniors

Premier Ed Stelmach’s plan to close the Red Deer Nursing Home and Valley Park Manor will uproot seniors from their homes, and force them into private facilities where profits are put before people.

These closures are part of the government’s move to reduce long-term care in Alberta.

Ed Stelmach has gone the great lengths to conceal this plan because it’s the opposite of what Albertans want. But the evidence is irrefutable, and Alberta’s NDP has worked hard to make it public.

We exposed the secret government directive to reduce the number of long-term care beds. We forced Alberta Health Services to admit there has been a net closure of 70 long-term care beds since the last election.

We showed the government’s false accounting of 371 long-term care beds that don’t exist. We’ve given a voice to nursing home workers who say lack of resources denies dignity to seniors. We shared letters from facility operators who say cuts to long-term care funding reduce quality of life in their facilities.

The Stelmach government is under funding long-term care and inviting private industry in to fill in the gap.

Private industry has no place in our health care system, especially long-term care. Private companies are not subject to the same standards as public facilities, charge more for less and are beholden to shareholders rather than seniors.

This privatization plan is being implemented under a shroud of secrecy, while the wait list for long-term care grows beyond 1,700.

Currently more than 230 people in Central Alberta are waiting for long-term care beds, including more than 50 in Red Deer.

If Ed Stelmach continues to break his promise to build more long-term care spaces, Alberta’s wait list could exceed 10,000 by the year 2020.

This is a shameful mistreatment of the seniors who helped build this province by an uncaring government that is beholden to its friends in private industry.

Alberta’s seniors deserve better than Ed Stelmach is offering.

I encourage all Albertans to visit www.ndpopposition.ab.ca, sign the AUPE petition to save the Red Deer Nursing Home and Valley Park Manor, and to hold this government accountable for decisions that move this province in the wrong direction.

Rachel Notley

MLA Edmonton-Strathcona (NDP caucus)