Seniors in dire straits need help now

Last April, I wrote to Premier Scott Moe to advise him of the funding gaps being experienced by many Saskatchewan seniors living in private care homes. The letter pointed out that it has been ten years since the Personal Care Home Benefit (PCHB) was revised to top up a persons’ income to a maximum, $2,000.00 per month.

I also pointed out that 75% of private care homes charge fees of $2200.00 to residents before incidentals, with an average rate of $2900.00. These homes must meet provincially-set standards to operate, and must charge accordingly. I called for a top-up income increase up to $3000.00.

Recently, this issue has been raised once again by a constituent who resides in a not-for-profit care home. They are appealing a recent decision which lowered their subsidy benefit from $206.00 per month to $38.00, even while they are already struggling and inflation rates are at alarming levels. The claw-back is apparently due to an increase in one of the other programs.

The constituent provided the following breakdown of their budget with notations:

• Care Home $2500.00

• Foot Care $40.00

• Voltaren & Gold Bond lotion $32.20

• Pharmacy $80.44 (portion of prescriptions not covered by Sask Health Plan)

• Bell TV   $79.37

• Sasktel Mobility $69.25

      TOTAL $2801.26. (Basic expenses)

Other expenses such as vehicle registration, maintenance and gas, clothing, toiletries, haircuts, massage treatments, other over-the-counter meds (when needed).

ONLY source of income:

Old Age Security & GIS $1201.50

CPP $781.75

Personal Care Home Benefit $38.00. 

      TOTAL.  $2021.25

According to the constituent’s advocate, this resident is in a Personal Care Home because “they NEED assistance with medications, meals, and overall supervision, but they are NOT totally incapable.  How does the Ministry of Social Services justify that they are financially supported and respectfully treated as an elderly citizen?”

It is clear that the subsidy cap for the PCHB need to be increased and quickly. With $500 in ‘Moe Dough’ about to be sent to everyone who filed income tax last year, perhaps the government could have used the revenue windfall to immediately assist the people who built this province, then incorporate the increase into the next budget to sustain the program. Saskatchewan people deserve social programs that actually meet their needs. The fall session begins Oct. 26 and I will be there to advocate on their behalf.