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Health minister Falcon hikes residential care rates

Some 20,000 seniors living in residential care facilities will pay more for their room and board starting in January, British Columbia health minister Kevin Falcon announced today.

The top rate, will go up by $22.10 a day from the current maximum of $74.30. Three quarters of the people living in residential care will pay more than they do now, Falcon said.

The lowest rate will decrease $1.50 from the current rate to $29.40 per day. Falcon said some 25 percent of seniors in care will see their fees drop.

Overall, the change in rates will see seniors living in the facilities pay $53.7 million more a year to the government.

“It will be very straightforward,” said Falcon, noting that people will pay 80 percent of their after tax income for their care. “Will they be happy about it? They certainly probably will not be.”

The change will be “fair, equitable and defensible” and will put the system in good shape as the number of seniors in the province increases, he said. “I don't think this is a time for us to avoid difficult decisions . . . We're going to do the right thing now.”

“He's dramatically increasing residential care rates,” said New Democratic Party health critic Adrian Dix. “If you make $22,000 a year you're a rich senior according to Kevin Falcon.”

That's not much money, he said, but even people with that low income will see their rates go up by nearly $2,000 a year. “Seniors just above the poverty line are getting soaked by this government.”

It's hard to believe Falcon would call that fair, he said. “No wonder there's public cynicism around this minister and this government.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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