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Auditor General report underscores chronic underfunding of nursing home staff and infrastructure

by Josh O'Donnell
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FREDERICTON – Today Auditor General Paul Martin released a report on the Department of Social Development’s response to COVID-19 in nursing homes. The report found that in 2022, 87 percent of nursing homes did not have appropriate care staff ratios, as required by the Nursing Homes Act. It also found that the department does not have a recruitment strategy for nursing homes.

“The Auditor General’s report underscores the chronic underfunding of nursing homes that we have seen from successive governments,” said Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon. “Nursing homes have been chronically understaffed, which undermines the well-being of seniors at the best of times, but during a pandemic this can be life-threatening.” 

The Auditor General’s report also highlighted the underfunding of nursing home infrastructure. The report found that 73 percent of homes do not meet 2010 or 2015 design standards. Despite this, the Department of Social Development says they have no plan to bring nursing homes up to modern standards because it would “have a significant financial impact” and “cause patient backlog in hospitals.”

“With consecutive years of surpluses of over a billion dollars, it is shameful that the Higgs government has refused to spend the money necessary to ensure our seniors are living in nursing homes that are fully staffed and meet modern standards. They deserve better, as do their caregivers,” said Coon.