Early last year, I was contacted by several people who made me aware of funding gaps being experienced by many Saskatchewan Seniors needing private care homes.
As I investigated their concerns, it became clear that the Personal Care Home Benefit was woefully inadequate. The Benefit was subsidizing Senior’s incomes to a maximum of $2,000/mo. However, at that time, the average rate for a care home spot was $2,800/mo. In addition, residents are also responsible for incidental personal care items and often, transportation.
I discovered that because of the income shortfall, many Seniors could not access the care they need.
The government failed to address that shortfall in its 2022-23 budget, so I wrote to the government and in particular, the Minister of Social Services, to show how Seniors were falling through the cracks. I requested that the subsidy be increased to a maximum of $3,000/mo to better reflect these inflationary times.
When I followed up with direct questions in the house, Minister Makowsky at first seemed unaware that there was a problem. As I continued to raise this concern in last fall’s session, his response was that the ministry was now aware, and looking at the issue. Finally, in this year’s budget, the Personal Care Home Benefit was raised to $2,400/mo. It’s not what is needed, but is an improvement.
So, what started as a few phone calls to my office from concerned Saskatchewan citizens, has now benefited Seniors across the province. I was privileged to bring their voice forward. Some had contacted their own MLAs and the minister. But clearly, they felt they weren’t being heard and so called me as an Independent member.
MLA’s need to be given an environment where they can fully represent the will of their constituents. My vision is to bring that kind of change to the house instead of tone-deaf complacency and dysfunction demonstrated by this government.