CENTRAL MANITOULIN—Everyone is in favour of creating assisted living spaces on Manitoulin Island, but when it comes to proposals to create those spaces, Central Manitoulin mayor and council remain cautious while offering conditional support.
“While this might seem overly cautious I think we can get more excited about the proposal with more details,” said Councillor Alex Baran. “Dr. Jeffery had a passionate and organized presentation, but our comfort level goes up with more details. Dr. Jeffery said he was perfectly happy with our expression of support.”
Council, he noted, had learned during Dr. Jeffery’s presentation that the proposal before the Manor board is still in its draft stage. As the business plan fills out and answers questions such as how Islanders will access the facility become clearer, council will be better able to firm up its own support. “I am anxious to see this when the plan is developed,” continued Councillor Baran.
Dr. Jeffery had brought a presentation to the April 26 meeting of the Safety, Security and Health Committee at the request of council, who had deferred an earlier request for support citing the need for greater information. Among the earlier concerns addressed by Dr. Jeffery was the size of the proposed facility, which has yet to be determined but is anticipated to be significantly larger than the six units erroneously cited at the previous council meeting.
“I am hopefully this will come before the MMA (Manitoulin Municipal Association) with all the municipalities,” said Mayor Richard Stephens, “where I hope it will be brought back to their councils.”
One of the key concerns with the proposal to the Manor is a request for a portion of the property owned by the long term care nursing facility on which to build the assisted living spaces, the provision of services for fee by the nursing home and the governance structure of the proposed facility (with some suggestion that the Manor board take on a role).
“Hopefully, the LHIN (Local Health Integrated Network) will have the report ready,” said Councillor Derek Stephens, referencing a report being prepared for the LHIN on the need for greater assisted living spaces and their impact on Northeastern Ontario communities. “Hopefully they will have their ducks in a row to be ready for it,” he said, but added “right now there is no real substance.”
“The doctor wanted to have a shovel ready project (ready for any funding opportunities),” rejoined Councillor Baran. “The province has made it clear that the support for more long term beds will not easy. This is the time to be ready, to have these things in place.”
“It will ultimately be decided by the Manor board,” noted Councillor Farquhar.
“There is probably some sense that facilities at the Manor will have to be expanded,” supplied Mayor Stephens. “That will be a concern as well.”
Councillor Patricia MacDonald, who sits on the Manor board on behalf of Central Manitoulin, noted that those items, particularly the transfer of property and the use of Manor facilities, were of concern to the board.
“There is also the fact that there are strict regulations on the use of funding that is received from the ministry, if you don’t follow the rules there are clawbacks,” said Councillor MacDonald. “Even when you do follow the rules, there are clawbacks it seems.”
The recommendation from the April 26 meeting of the Safety, Security and Health Committee that was passed on a motion made by Councillor Alex Baran and seconded by Councillor Linda Farquhar at the Thursday, April 28 council meeting reads: “Whereas the Municipality of Central Manitoulin recognizes the need for assisted living facilities on Manitoulin Island; therefore we recommend to council to support Dr. Roy Jeffery’s proposal in principal, but reserves the right to make its support contingent upon satisfactory development of a business plan that includes such things as an admissions policy, capital and operating plans and other areas of concern to the municipality.”