NDP requests raise to Personal Care Home Benefit for struggling Saskatchewan seniors

The official Opposition called on Premier Scott Moe and his party to provide targeted financial relief for Saskatchewan seniors, saying that the affordability cheques were not enough.

“The people who built our province should be able to age close to home in dignity and comfort,” said Beck. “The provincial coffers are filling with cash because of high oil and potash prices and Scott Moe’s Sask. Party government is making life less affordable for seniors.

“The Sask. Party is actually taking money right out of seniors’ pockets.”

The official Opposition was joined at the Legislature by seniors on fixed incomes who are struggling to make ends meet. They have assistance from family and caregivers, as well as the Personal Care Home Benefit, but they say it is not enough.

Linda Wollms, a senior’s advocate from Saskatoon, said her mother Emmeline Kirk, is in a care home.

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“Last year, she made $261 a month; this year, she is making $91,” Wollms said. “She lost $162 a month because they (government) gave her a cost-of-living increase.

“Her bank account is going down very fast and then the next question is where does the money come from.”

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Although the cost of living has significantly increased, the benefit has not, and Linda said that the government usually turns to the family to cover any unpaid sums.

“You’re always robbing somebody to help pay for the other person, we need the government to help pay that. She has been here 97 years. She has helped established this country. What is she getting for it?” said Wollms.

“The cost of operating personal care homes is going up with the price of everything and without targeted relief like what’s happening in Alberta;, the Sask. Party government is forcing care home operators to pass the costs onto our seniors,” said seniors critic Matt Love.

“Seniors, their families, care home operators, everyone is in a huge bind and by clawing back the seniors’ benefit — which is small enough as it is — the Sask. Party is making a bad situation even worse.”

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This week, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith announced a batch of inflation-fighting relief aid for Albertans that will be distributed to families, seniors, and the vulnerable. In a televised address she announced there will be a $600 payout over six months to seniors and to those receiving benefits in programs including Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped and Persons with Developmental Disabilities.

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The Saskatchewan Personal Care Home Benefit was created in 2012 and set at $1, 800 and increased to $2, 000 in 2015. Love said that this $2, 000 cannot cover the monthly cost of most personal care homes in Saskatchewan.

“That is where it has stayed,” said Saskatchewan Minister of Social Services Gene Makowsky. “We have certainly heard from folks, as I mentioned in the House, that they are concerned that this isn’t keeping up with inflation, so we are prepared to take a close look at that,” said

“Individual circumstances can dramatically shift over time based on income or what have you. Some people fall off, some people come on every year and that has been the case since the program began.”

Makowsky said that the Personal Care Home Benefit covers most people who they classify as ‘level one’ or ‘level two’. These people are not in long-term care as they do not usually have as extensive needs.

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