NDP Edmonton Centre MLA David Shepherd, the Official Opposition health critic, teamed up with Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips to request clarification from the provincial government on a release date for previously committed funding for a new assisted living facility in Lethbridge.
“This government is looking to save money on health care… looking for ways to find efficiencies,” Shepherd said in Lethbridge Tuesday. “Keeping people in hospital beds that should be in supported living facilities in the community is one of the most expensive places for those people to be.
“So the government has stated its priorities are to reduce health care costs. This is an opportunity for them to do precisely that.”
In March, the former NDP government committed $10 million towards the construction of a new assisted living facility in west Lethbridge; Covenant Health is also providing $16 million towards the project.
Minister of Health Tyler Shandro had his office respond to Global News with a statement Tuesday evening, saying:
“This project is proceeding as planned, according to a funding agreement for $10 million signed with Alberta Health in 2018. Construction is scheduled to begin next year, 2020-21, as per the funding agreement.
“Our government has no intention of changing the project and we have given no signal of any such intention to Covenant or anyone else involved. The NDP are trying to create an issue in Lethbridge over nothing.”
“That was announced in March of this past year,” Shepherd said, “but there’s funding that has already been in place, and has already been invested by Covenant Health towards the planning, development, and land acquisition.
“We’re looking for clarity from this government that they are going to follow through on this commitment.”
The facility would house 100 units and provide support for residents as their care needs change. It would also include rooms for people living with dementia.
“We recognize that Lethbridge has the fastest-growing seniors population in the province,” Shepherd said.
“Our hope,” Shepherd continued, “is that the government is going to follow through on these projects. Again, we’ve had a number of situations where this government has caused uncertainty because of their silence and lack of communication on a number of fronts.”
The letter from the NDP caucus was addressed to Shandro and Josephine Pon, the minister of seniors and housing.