July 23, 2014 6:21 pm

Health policy keeps elderly couple from joining family in Alberta

CALGARY- A Canadian family dealing with major health issues is facing a new battle: government red tape.

Airdrie’s Johanna Hirons wants her elderly parents to move from Toronto to Alberta, as they both require care. Her father Tony currently lives in a nursing home in Toronto, and her mother now faces health problems.

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Unfortunately, a policy from Alberta Health has left them stranded. Legislation states that anyone moving from out of province must live in Alberta for 12 months before being eligible for any kind of continuing care subsidy. If the Hirons were to move to Airdrie, they would be on the hook for $7,500 per month for an entire year.

“Right now my mom pays around $1,800 to $1,900 a month for his care in Toronto, and I’m assuming it’s around the same cost here,” says Johanna Hirons. “But $7,500 dollars a month is really prohibitive.”

Ironically, it wouldn’t be a problem if the family was moving from Alberta to Ontario, as Ontario Health only requires people to live there for three months before joining the province’s insurance plan. That waiting period is waived for those who move directly into a long term care facility.

“I don’t understand how that’s remotely acceptable that a Canadian citizen can’t move from one province to another and be with his family, especially when he’s in such a vulnerable position,” Hirons complains.

Despite multiple inquiries, neither Alberta Health Services or Alberta Health have responded to Global News’ requests for comment.

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