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Long-term beds open up to more veterans

Veterans Affairs Canada has widened eligibility for long-term care beds.

Where once there were long wait lists for VAC contract beds, there are now vacancies due to the decline in number of Second World War and Korean War veterans.

VAC has entered into agreements with 10 long-term care facilities, former veterans’ hospitals across the country, widening eligibility in many cases to low-income Second World War veterans who served at least one year in Canada, Canadian Armed Forces veterans and Allied veterans.

“This decision moves beds that are being underused into a category that will increase access for more veterans, while still keeping a proportional number available for Second World War and Korean veterans,” said then-Minister of Veterans Affairs Seamus O’Regan, following the announcement at Halifax’s Camp Hill Veterans’ Memorial Building.

The minister indicated that while this would help alleviate some bottlenecks and support some veterans now, VAC will continue to work with provincial health-care systems. “This is not the end of the discussion about long-term care,” he said.  Discussions with a further eight facilities continue.

“We have confirmed that current practice at Caribou Memorial Veterans Pavilion in St. John’s and at the Deer Lodge Centre in Winnipeg is to admit all veterans as well as spouses of veterans on a preferred basis,” VAC spokesperson Emily Gauthier said. “As such, formal agreements with these facilities are not required.”

More than 5,000 veterans are in long-term care facilities in communities throughout Canada.

The department provided about $237 million in financial support in 2017-18 for beds in two settings, either in community facilities with beds that provide nursing-home care to veterans as well as other provincial residents or in contract beds in community facilities that have beds designated as priority-access for eligible veterans.

In a 2017 report, the veterans ombudsman called for VAC to merge the Veterans Independence Program and the Long-Term Care Program so that access need be determined only once. 

“We know that (regulations) are not always flexible enough to address every veteran’s unique situation,” said Gauthier. “We are reviewing the regulations to allow more flexibility in accessing long-term care beds.”


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