Protestors gathered in City Hall Park Tuesday to continue to try and change the provincial government’s plans to shut down the Red Deer Nursing Home and Valley Park Manor.
About 300 gathered to listen to a stream of speakers which included provincial NDP leader Brian Mason and Liberal MLA and former party leader Kevin Taft.
“The provincial government has a strategy of turning people out of nursing homes which are part of the health care system where you get drugs, assistance and medical care paid for out of the health care system, and putting them into assisted living facilities.
“Now, they may be new but they’re often on a ‘for-profit’ basis,” said Mason, adding that it’s the government’s aim to privatize seniors’ care in this province and pass the costs onto seniors themselves. “They’re continuing in the same direction they want to go in health care which is to pass the costs onto individuals rather than have them borne by society as a whole.”
Meanwhile, the government’s plan is to move patients from both facilities into the newly-built Michener Village starting this fall.
This past June the province also announced 100 new local affordable accommodation spaces for seniors which should be up and running by 2012. The province has committed $10 million to Covenant Health to help build the spaces at a new proposed facility for Red Deer.
But those plans did little to quell concerns at Tuesday’s rally.
“If they keep shutting down these nursing homes, where are the baby boomers going to go,” said Jean Lawson, who has worked at the Red Deer Nursing Home for 25 years and is hoping to be hired on at the Red Deer Regional Hospital. “It’s the expense too,” she said of some seniors having to move into facilities that have varying levels of costs attached to them.
Taft said protestors were fighting for democracy in a province that knows too little of democracy. “I would urge all of you to carry on the fight. It will be difficult, and it has been difficult but you can win.”