Original Published on Aug 31, 2022 at 09:36
By Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Recent inflation has caused a significant jump in the cost of living for Canadians across the country, though the impact has been most severe on those with a fixed income, including senior citizens.
The Alberta government announced July 27 it would provide some financial relief to seniors living in designated supportive living and long-term care by spending $11 million to subsidize the provincial accommodation rate.
The accommodation rate is the portion of charges for rent and food seniors are required to pay for room and board in designated Alberta Health Services supportive living and long-term care facilities. Accommodation rates are set based on the Alberta Consumer Price Index. Initially, the 2022 rate was set to increase 5.5 per cent on July 1.
The province previously committed $14 million to maintain the 2021 accommodation rate until Oct. 31, and the additional $11 million will subsidize the charge for seniors to keep its increase to 3.2 per cent from Nov. 1 until June 30, 2023.
For some perspective, without the subsidization the average monthly rate at an AHS facility would be $2,249. By maintaining 2021 levels, that average is now $2,132, which will jump to $2,201 when the 3.2 per cent increase occurs Nov. 1.
While the subsidy helps a little with the overall budget, Crowsnest Pass Senior Housing’s chief administrative officer, Annie Lok, says the higher costs of everything from food to electricity has administration paying close attention to budget levels, especially with the new Peaks to Pines Lodge.
“We do watch our money fairly closely, and this year is a challenging year for us just for the fact that we moved,” says Lok.
Many of the additional costs have been absorbed by healthy reserve funds that have been maintained over the last decade, she adds. Although budget adjustments are inevitable, maintaining a comfortable quality of life for residents remains the most important focus.
“The comfort level of our residents is still our No. 1 priority, and we want to make sure they’re well fed and comfortable,” Lok continues. “It is not our model to make it uncomfortable for our residents to live in.”
Similar circumstances exist in Pincher Creek. Though the Pincher Creek Foundation board of directors decided not to increase the accommodation rates for residents, chief administrative officer Stacey Kyllo says the effects of inflation will need to be considered for the 2023 budget.
“Those will be the things that we take into account in the new year that will probably affect the rate, if the board decides,” she says.
With increased living expenses, one thing the foundation is trying to do is support the local economy, Kyllo adds.
“We buy a lot of local. If it’s difficult for us, I can only imagine it’s really difficult for other organizations.”
More information on the province’s accommodation rate can be found online at bit.ly/AB_accommodation.
This item reprinted with permission from Shootin’ the Breeze, Pincher Creek, Alberta