February 19, 2016 8:26 pm
Updated: February 20, 2016 4:38 pm

Peter Stoffer says no-spouse rule can be changed at Halifax veterans care home

A family is willing to pay for any added costs to keep a senior couple together. Veterans Affairs Canada and the Nova Scotia Health Authority says the Nova Scotia Health Authority makes the call. The Nova Scotia Health Authority says Veterans Affairs Canada makes the call. Global's Steve Silva went looking for answers.


The former critic of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) said the rule preventing spouses from living with veterans at a Halifax veterans care home could and should be changed.

“There’s absolutely no reason at all why the minister of veterans affairs and the minister of health here in the province can’t pick up the phone and say, ‘Let’s get it done by noon today,'” said Peter Stoffer, who served as a Nova Scotia MP until last year. “It’s the right thing to do.”

The family of Harold and Virginia Cameron spoke to Global News Thursday about a petition they set up asking for a rule change to allow their 89-year-old grandmother, who is not a veteran, to stay in a care home for veterans.

They said they want their 91-year-old grandfather, a Second World War veteran, to eventually stay at the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Building.

According to the family, Harold has Alzheimer’s, and Virginia is developing dementia, and both need round-the-clock care.

“The thought of separating them is just not an option for them,” said Gillian Osborne, the couple’s granddaughter, Thursday.

On Friday, Stoffer said the issue was about respect, dignity, and quality of care.

The provincial government has an economic incentive to allow Virginia in, he added.

VAC pays for veterans care at the home while the provincial government pays for care at other facilities.

If the province were to find the couple care at another home, it would pay for both of their costs.

“That just doesn’t make any sense at all,” said Stoffer. “There’s no rule, no legislation, no line anywhere that says they can’t be together at Camp Hill, especially when the family wants to pay for it.”

For the second day in a row, VAC did not provide either its minister or a spokesperson for an interview.

Instead, it reiterated its prior statement: “The decision falls under the purview of the Nova Scotia Health Authority.”

The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) also didn’t have a spokesperson available for an on-camera interview Friday but did provide a statement that included: “…residents are not able to privately fund beds at Veterans Memorial Hospital (Camp Hill) as this is a public facility and is not licensed nor used for that purpose.”

Along with an option for publicly-funded care for a vet’s spouse, the rule could change if the NSHA, VAC, and the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness decided to, a NSHA spokesperson said on the phone.

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