(Quebec) Families of seniors housed in a private CHSLD in Quebec are “outraged” by rent increases of 30 to 50%, which will make them pay up to $97,000 a year. The owner justifies these vertiginous increases by the new orientations of the Legault government. Quebec rejects his explanations and asks him to step back.
“We are outraged. It’s not reasonable,” exclaimed Carole Bédard. His 92-year-old mother has lived at the CHSLD Domaine Saint-Dominique for seven years. A year ago, the lease was renewed for $3,488 per month, which includes housing and care.
In September, Ms. Bédard is informed that the new rate will increase to $5,475 since her mother needs more care, she is told. “We swallowed the pill. My sisters and I took out money from our own bank accounts to help out,” says Carole’s brother, Jean Bédard.
However, at the end of January, they are told that the cost per month will now be $7,448 starting in April, or more than $89,000 per year. It’s the shock. “Our mother can’t take that hike for very long. He has money left over for the equivalent of maybe a year,” laments Ms. Bédard.
Their case is not unique. Two other families reported similar situations to La Presse. Françoise Chalifour’s mother will have to pay $97,440 per year, a monthly increase of $2,538 which will take effect in May. “How can a 93-year-old woman have [housing] above $90,000 a year? “, she laments in an interview.
Domaine Saint-Dominique has been under the supervision of the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale since the fall due to “significant and worrying shortcomings relating to the quality of care and services to residents”, underlines the Ministry of Health and Social Services ( MSSS). Although the “efforts made since [have] made it possible to considerably improve the quality of the living environment”, the guardianship is maintained until September 2023.
These rent increases are part of the context where the government of François Legault has decided to convert private CHSLDs into approved establishments, pleads the president of the CHSLD. “This new status results in a significant increase in the care offerings that we are obligated to provide to all residents, current and future,” writes Mr. Gilbert.
The CHSLD has been facing an average monthly deficit of about $245,000 since October, Gilbert said. “We redistribute part of the costs of this operation to the residents,” he admits.
Explanations that “jumped” the Minister for Health and Seniors, Sonia Bélanger. “There is no question that the agreement process will be assumed by the elders,” she said in an interview with La Presse. “The owners came up with that argument, but it’s not in the ministerial or political discourse at all,” she said.
To be approved, and therefore subsidized by the State, the establishment must “achieve a certain level of standards” in terms of quality of services, underlines the minister. Quebec can offer support, but there are no amounts allocated to allow them to reach these new standards.
For Ms. Bélanger, the rises at Domaine Saint-Dominique are “staggering” and “completely unrealistic”. She asked the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale to find a way through with the owner. “He’s going to change the bill, he’s going to do it,” the minister said. On Thursday, Mr. Gilbert said he still intends to go ahead with the increases.
Carole Bédard had also written to Ms. Bélanger at the end of March to denounce the situation. She got a response from the minister the day before the article was published.
The minister assures that she intervened as soon as she was informed of the situation, about two weeks ago.
Ms. Bélanger also asked the MSSS to send “clear instructions” to owners of private CHSLDs to avoid a situation like that of Domaine Saint-Dominique.
But the concern among the families persists. “During this time, we have seniors who have to deal with increases that are asked of them and which are really abusive,” lamented the spokesperson for the establishment’s users’ committee, Françoise Trudel. Her father received a 43% rent increase.
Ms. Chalifour filed a complaint with the Service Quality and Complaints Commission of the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale on April 10. She is still unanswered.
For their part, Carole Bédard’s family must consider finding a new residence for her mother. “She loves the residence where she lives and often tells us that she is very lucky to be able to end her life there. She is going to be very sad to leave [the CHSLD] ”, laments Ms. Bédard.
Quebec is giving itself five years to contract the quarantine of private CHSLDs with the aim of “harmonizing the care offer” between the public and the private sector. The pandemic has revealed disparities between the two categories of establishments. According to Minister Eric Girard’s latest budget, the Legault government would have “significant progress” in the contracting of 16 CHSLDs.