West End council recommends Manor merge with Lodge

Jason Forrest

The Recorder

EVANSVILLE—Ken Noland, reeve of Burpee and Mills, put forward a motion (supported by council) at a meeting Monday to the Manitoulin Centennial Manor board to investigate the option of a merger with the Manitoulin Lodge in Gore Bay.

The resolution indicated there is information showing 60-bed long-term care facilities in Ontario are financially unsustainable and facilities operating with less than 100 beds are facing serious financial difficulties.

It went on to say the Manor is currently facing a substantial accumulated financial deficiency and some participating Manitoulin municipalities are requesting expeditious resolution of the Manor’s accumulated deficiency.

Since the current Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) policy is to encourage integration of health facilities in the province, the resolution passed recommends that the Manor board of management be requested to explore all options to make the Manor a continuing financially viable operation and specifically, to investigate the option of a merger with the 60-bed Manitoulin Lodge nursing home in Gore Bay to create a single sustainable facility.

Council emailed its resolution to the Manor board and to the rest of the municipalities across Manitoulin.

The Manor and the Manitoulin Lodge receive the same government funding, according to Mr. Noland. The Manitoulin Lodge is privately owned by Jarlette Health Services while the Manor is publicly owned. Therefore, each municipality contributes to the Manor and as in Burpee and Mills’ case that amounts to between $2,000-3,000 every year.

“It is Ministry of Health and Long Term Care policy to encourage integration of facilities like this because it eliminates some of the senior management positions, and those cost a lot of money. How you would (integrate the Manor and the Lodge) on Manitoulin Island is very much a question. I hope there is some open discussion about it because there are a lot of options,” Pentti Palonen, councillor for Burpee and Mills, said. “There’s nothing wrong with a 120-bed facility run by the municipality if it can run on a sustainable basis.”

Mr. Palonen also said the contract the Manor board has with Extendicare notes that if the municipalities were to ‘dispose’ of the facility, they would have the first chance to purchase the Manor.

According to Mr Palonen, in 2006-2007 the MOHLTC took over the management of the Manor by ministerial order.

“When that happens, the board has no authority,” Mr. Palonen said.

He explained the commitment from the ministry was that it would look after all of the expenses it had accumulated during the time it was in charge, which the ministry had explained to many municipal councillors at a meeting in 2007.

“We had gone along assuming we would not have to meet those expenses. All of a sudden, this year we received a letter saying we will be deducting $700,000 from your allocation,” said Mr. Palonen. “Every time it’s come up, we’ve brought it up to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and explained our agreement and the whole thing disappeared. We are in negotiation and they haven’t yet said we have to pay it; when the results of the negotiation come out, then we will know where we stand,” he said.

“Figures in Ontario show 12 percent of the population is 60 years of age or older, Northern Ontario is much higher, but Manitoulin specifically is at 24 percent—double the provincial average,” said Mr. Palonen. “The Extendicare representative at our most recent board meeting said the government is presently looking at changing the financing of long term care, not on the basis of population, but the basis of elderly.”

Councillor Wayne Bailey said, “in the future we may be in the situation of 220 beds, but hopefully at that time the government’s funding formula will change. And also consider, Manitoulin Island is becoming a home for retired people.”

“They say we have too many beds on Manitoulin now as a percentage, but every facility is running at capacity,” Mr. Noland said. “The writing on the wall says these 60-bed facilities cannot survive.”