Premier Kathleen Wynne was recently in Hawkesbury to announce the province will be funding an additional 78 long-term care beds for the Prescott-Russell Residence.

While that’s definitely good news to help accommodate the growing waitlist at the residence, it has a number of other impacts on the current and soon-to-be-built residence. The Review spoke with United Counties of Prescott and Russell CAO Stéphane Parisien to outline some of those changes.

Another floor and more staff

With the total number of beds jumping to 224, that guarantees a third floor will be added to the new residence, says Parisien.

Of course, adding another floor changes the project’s budget, but Parisien says it’s still too early to tell by how much.

“We’re not in a situation to say no to these additional beds,” he says. “If we got 78 beds, it’s because we need them… no matter the cost people want to come to the residence.” 

That being the case, Parisien says the UCPR will likely be hiring more staff to serve the increase in residents.

Additionally, the beds announced by the province won’t be coming until 2022—about the time the UCPR is hoping to open the new residence.

Possible savings

While there are no costs to receiving the beds, keeping them operational obviously falls on the UCPR.

As a point of reference, the UCPR’s budget for the residence this year is about $16 million—$6 million of that comes from taxes.

After Clarence-Rockland mayor Guy Desjardins deemed that number to be too high, the UCPR council finally hired a third party for an operations review to find current and future efficiencies.

While the review is ongoing, Parisien says things like having a more energy efficient building, a better layout and more staff could lead to some savings.

“It allows for economy of scale since,” he says. “In principle, the more beds you have, the cost per bed should go down.”  

No prioritization

The province’s press release about the beds made a point of targeting francophone seniors. That was echoed during Wynne’s announcement. Many readers questioned the the Premier’s focus on serving francophone residents with some chalking it up to the Liberals pandering for the local vote in the upcoming election.

Others mentioned a deeper language-fuelled divide in the area, prompting Hawkesbury Mayor Jeanne Charlebois to intervene.

The Review asked Stéphane Parisien if available beds at the residence were prioritized based on language, and later followed up with an email asking if applicants to the residents were screened in any way and priority was given to someone from Prescott-Russell over someone from SD&G or Québec.

“Not at all,” he said. “Otherwise it would discriminatory.”