Budget cuts forcing possible fee hikes at Northwood

One of the province’s largest long-term care facilities says its residents will feel the impact of provincial budget cuts.

Northwood says it’s considering increasing fees for services like wheelchair repairs, leaving vacancies in administration unfilled, and changing items on its grocery list to help absorb the one per cent budget cut the provincial Liberals announced in April.

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“This cut is very deep and it’s much more extreme than what we’ve seen in previous years,” Northwood president and CEO Janet Simm said.

The government’s April budget included a $3.1 million cut to long-term care facilities, while at the same time spending more money on home care. The cut hit 106 of the province’s 132 publicly funded nursing homes.

For Northwood, the across-the-board budget cut is especially difficult to manage for the organization’s food bill which is steadily going up, Simm said. To manage the rising cost of food with a declining budget, Northwood is considering limiting pricier produce like tomatoes.

“When you get cuts to food budgets the people who live in Northwood feel those things,” Simm said.

In an emailed statement the health department said it believes facilities can find “administrative efficiencies that will save money without impacting resident care.”

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The seniors’ residence says it’s stretching its dollars further by partnering with other long-term care facilities, but it says there’s not a lot of slack left after the organization made changes following last year’s budget cuts.

Cuts for this year were announced after Northwood already had its budget in place, Simm said, and the late notice made it more difficult for the organization to adjust. For the first time in years it’s expecting to post a deficit.

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