Sticker shock for Manor board: Addition of 64 more beds will cost $17 million

Manitoulin Centennial Manor

LITTLE CURRENT – The board of the Manitoulin Centennial Manor received more details at its December meeting about what an addition of beds to the long-term care facility would mean for its member municipalities.

Rebecca Scott Rawn, Extendicare’s national director of communications, explained to the board that she knows the Manor well as she is the former regional director. (Extendicare is a private long-term care organization with which the Manor board has an agreement for administration.)

Ms. Scott Rawn said the province’s original date of mid-January to apply for funds for additional beds has now been extended to March 21.

“The issue for the Manor is that it is classified as an ‘A’ facility, so there is no need or drive to redevelop as if it were, say, a ‘C’ home,” explained Keith Clement, Extendicare senior administrator. The province classifies homes as A, B or C. A homes are not in need of a rebuild while C homes will need to be rebuilt by 2025.

Board chair Pat MacDonald said she worried that as the Manor already has a hard time filling personal support worker (PSW) shifts, adding beds would exacerbate this problem.

Ms. Scott Rawn noted that the provincial funds are also allowable for the creation of additional beds. “Sixty-bed homes (like the Manor) can be difficult so you can get a bit more economy of scale with more beds,” she said.

The Ministry of Health and Long-term Care does provide a construction funding subsidy—$18.03 per bed per day over 25 years—“but it certainly comes nowhere near covering all the capital costs,” Ms. Scott Rawn warned. Based on similar builds, she estimated the construction cost to be around $280,000 per bed. “The subsidy only covers 30 to 40 percent of the costs, so you would have to be responsible for finding the ongoing capital, and wouldn’t begin to receive that until the beds are open and operational.” This would fall to the municipalities in the interim, she said.

Mr. Clement explained that in the 1990s, the government funding fell into the 45 percent range and that they and other long-term care facilities continue to lobby the government to bring the funding back in line to that point in time.

Ms. Scott Rawn said that she recommended the number 32 for beds, as this is the number of allowable beds in a ‘home area,’ the living space in a facility including dining rooms and common areas. And, as the Manor has two floors, she suggested the board think of two home areas, one on each floor, for an additional 64 beds in total.

She then dropped a figure for those 64 beds: $17 million.

This was followed by silence then awkward laughter from the board.

“I could see how far that would go with the township unless there’s a bigger provincial contribution,” said Hugh Moggy of Assiginack.

“That’s a terrible business case,” added Art Hayden to more laughter.

Ms. Scott Rawn asked the board to consider two things: would they be able to fill those new beds, and would they be able to staff them.

“You’re talking nickels and dimes and millions,” Mr. Hayden added.

Ms. Scott Rawn noted that the Manor would be eligible for a $250,000 planning grant from the ministry.

“This is a project that would take years to complete,” Mr. Hayden said, adding that while there will be a big demand for beds in the short term, this will decrease over time, pointing to schools shuttering across the North by way of example. (Statistics from the North East Local Health Integration Network show that the number of residents aged 75 plus on Manitoulin is 1,417, according to the 2016 Census. Projected growth by the year 2029 is 2,115 residents aged 75 and older.)

Mr. Clement suggested the board find out what the other homes, in Wiiwkemkoong and Gore Bay, are planning to do. “If they’re planning on expanding, the Manor might not want to.” After a few rough calculations, Mr. Clement shared that the municipal share of that $17 million would be about $12 million.

“Something like this would have a very dramatic impact,” said Mr. Hayden, pointing to the low tax base and small budgets of most Island municipalities.

The Wikwemikong Nursing Home will be applying to the provincial funds by March, administrator Cheryl Osawabine-Peltier told The Expositor Friday.

Classified as a ‘C’ home, the nursing home’s licence is set to expire on June 25, 2025.

A new site for the nursing home has been set for an area near Thunderbird Park which would allow residents to access the many events that go on there, Ms. Osawabine-Peltier explained. The new facility would increase from 59 beds to 96.

A feasibility study has been completed, but community consultations will take place in the new year, the administrator added.

The Expositor reached out to Jarlette Health Services, the company that runs the Manitoulin Lodge, a ‘C’ class facility with 62 beds that will also see its licence with the province expire in 2025.

“Manitoulin Lodge is working with the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care to redevelop in the near future,” Jarlette community communications coordinator Stephanie Barber told The Expositor. “We are currently awaiting the ministry’s response with regards to the project and will provide additional details when they become available.”