Manor Christmas comes early as province forgives debt

MANITOULIN—Earlier this month at an Assiginack council meeting, councillor and Manitoulin Centennial Manor board of management member Paul Moffat shared the exciting news that almost $600,000 owed to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) by the Manitoulin Centennial Manor was being forgiven.

“I think a lot of people thought the Manor board was being mismanaged and this news is a credit to them,” he said. “They’ll be starting out the new year with a clean slate.”

The Expositor contacted the MOHLTC regarding the forgiven debt and confirmed the remaining $494,299 still owed to the ministry from the years 2006 and 2007 was being waived.

“A letter has been sent out to the chair of the Manor board of management that the ministry is waiving the $494,299 in recoveries for the Manitoulin Centennial Manor for the years 2006 and 2007,” said David Jensen, media relations coordinator with the MOHLTC. “This is being done in recognition that a suspension of admissions at the Manitoulin Centennial Manor for a prolonged period of time had led to lower occupancy levels during those years. This ministry’s decision acknowledges the substantial efforts made by the board of management and staff at the Manor to address and resolve compliance issues. The hard work of the board of management and the staff has enabled them to overcome these challenges and the home now is operating in compliance with ministry standards. The Manitoulin Centennial Manor provides a value added service and helps ensure those living on Manitoulin Island and surrounding area receive the right care at the right time and in the right place.”

(The ministry requires that no new clients can be admitted to a long-term care facility while it is in the process of bringing the facility up to current standards. This means that most ordinary costs remain the same but the offsetting income diminishes as beds become available but are not able to be filled until all work is completed and the ministry gives the facility the go ahead to resume business as usual.)

The Manor board’s financial chair Ed Bond was unable to specifically comment, as he had not yet reviewed the letter, but did say that he had “heard that we were looking forward to a favourable response concerning the recoveries from 2006 and 2007.”

“I don’t know all the details,” continued Mr. Bond. “But our chair (Rev. Mary-Jo Eckert-Tracy) will likely be sharing the news at our January board meeting. I do know that the board, staff and the Manor’s management company Extendicare have been working diligently to resolve the discrepancies with the MOHLTC and if what you are saying is true, this is good news and we will be happy to put this issue behind us and start the New Year off with a strong financial footing.”

Rev. Eckert-Tracy was unavailable for comment.

The Expositor also spoke with Northeast Town councillor and Manor board member Al MacNevin who was able to clarify more details.

“We have been repaying the MOHLTC $6,800 per month over the past several months for the 2008 amount,” Mr. MacNevin told The Expositor. “We were informed during a conference call with MOHLTC area manager Linda Toner at our November meeting that due to consultation with Extendicare and Manor staff, more details of the 2008 recovery had been sorted out and in fact we had overpaid. She said that we could expect a letter from the assistant to the deputy minister of the MOHLTC, forgiving the clawbacks (recoveries) from 2006 and 2007, as well receiving $53,000 back in overpayment from the 2008 clawbacks that the ministry had been collecting.”

Mr. MacNevin said that he could not confirm the exact number, as he had not yet seen the letter, but did explain that Mr. Moffat’s comment was refering to the combination of the $53,000 credit, in addition to the $494,299 that was being forgiven, resulting in a total credit of $547,299 in the Manor’s favour.

“This is good news,” added Mr. MacNevin. “It means the Manor board can now move on, addressing the sustainability of the facility and move forward in a positive direction.”

The Manor board learned of the MOHLTC’s first request for financial repayment this past spring when Extendicare explained to the board that they had been working with the MOHLTC to resolve discrepancies with the allocation of funding from 2008, amounting to $190,000. In the interim, however, the MOHLTC had already begun the clawback process, collecting payments in the amount of roughly $9,000 per month, beginning in December of 2011. This was to continue for 20 months until the ministry had recouped the overpaid funds.

To further complicate matters, in May the Manor received several other letters from the MOHLTC, informing the facility of other funds owed, amounting to over $400,000 based on claims of overpayment in ministry funding for the years of 2006 through 2008.

The 2006 and 2007 clawbacks reflected the facility’s relatively low occupancy rates during those periods where the number of residents the facility was allowed to admit was limited as the Manor was in the process of remedying ‘deficiencies’ identified by the MOHLTC.

Over the past several months, the Manor board of management, administration staff and Extendicare have been working with the MOHLTC to resolve the matter and get to the bottom of the actual amount owed as according to Extenicare, the clawback amounts were not correct.

All the hard work of everyone involved, including MP Carol Hughes and MPP Mike Mantha, who have been helping with the negotiations, has finally paid off as the MOHLTC confirmed with The Expositor on Monday that the clawbacks have now all been settled.

“There are no further funds to be recovered by the ministry,” concluded correspondence with Mr. Jensen. “The $494,299 was the total amount still owed to the ministry and this has been waived.”


Robin Burridge