Seniors housing project in chaos as it waits for home care decision

Operation Friendship kicked out private care seven years ago, now AHS wants it back

EDMONTON – After the provincial government’s reversal last week on privatizing home care services, the Redford Tories are refusing to clarify the situation at a society for hard to house seniors.
Operation Friendship Seniors Society in Edmonton serves a number of seniors with addiction and other issues who would be homeless if not for their efforts. The Society operates two lodges, three apartment buildings, and a rooming house in Edmonton. In total, the Society operates 350 units housing 350 residents.

The Society received notice from Alberta Health Services that it would no longer be funded to provide home care. Home care services will instead be contracted to the Canadian Back Institute, a for-profit company from Toronto.

Marle Roberts, the Alberta President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says the Society began running its own home care in 2006 after private care providers couldn’t provide the necessary level of specialized service. Staff at Operation Friendship are members of CUPE.

“Operation Friendship houses people with serious addiction and mental health issues,” said Roberts. “You can’t just hire anyone to care for these seniors. They can be very difficult to handle.”

Roberts says the Society is having trouble finding out if and when their services will still be contracted to CBI. “They were supposed to have a conversation with AHS on Friday, but AHS cancelled and said they would reschedule within three weeks.”

Transition to the contractor was originally scheduled to take place July 1st, however CBI isn’t available until July 22nd. Operation Friendship hasn’t been assured of funding past the end of this week. It is planning on issuing staff termination notices today.

Roberts says it’s not reasonable that the government can’t clarify the situation sooner.

“The government has thrown home care into chaos,” said Roberts. “They are upsetting a system that works well, that houses the homeless, and they are playing games with people’s lives.

“They need to reverse the privatization of home care and listen to the people most affected.”

Contact: Lou Arab
Communications Representative