Petition circulating calling for all efforts to cease until public consultation




SaltWire Network


Concerns, questions, and the demand for answers were themes of a public meeting in Shelburne to discuss a decision by the three municipal units in eastern Shelburne County to privatize Roseway Manor to a for-profit entity through a tendering process. Around 100 people attended the April 30 meeting, organized by Shelburne resident Darren Stoddard. Notably absent were the majority of municipal councillors for the three units – the towns of Shelburne and Lockeport and the Municipality of Shelburne – which have owned the long-term care facility as a municipal corporation since it was opened in 1976. One councillor for the Municipality of Shelburne who attended and spoke was Sherry Thorburn Irvine, who made it clear she does not speak for the council. Irvine was the only one on her council who voted against the recent decision to transfer ownership of Roseway Manor. The municipal units will be working with the province of Nova Scotia. Lone councillors from the Towns of Shelburne and Lockeport also voted against the decision. “Clearly our council has not landed where we need to land because you are all here today,” said Irvine. “Where do we go from here? Go talk to your councillor. Listen and don’t accept superficial soundbites. Dig deeper. Ask questions to get a sense of exactly how much they know and, quite frankly, where do we go from here." Irvine said the easiest path forward would be to go forprofit. The more arduous path would be to strike a community-driven governance board. “Not only will that mean more to do that, you’ve got to have fire in your belly and be committed because we are also looking at a new building," she said. "At least we should provide the community with the opportunity and the chance to strike a community-driven governance board.” Former town councillor and current Roseway Manor board member Roy O’Donnell also spoke. “Only last year the three units voted and approved the transfer of Roseway Manor to a new not-for-profit association. This would eliminate the need for councillors to sit on the manor board. I agree this was the right approach to take,” he said. “And now one year later the three councils have decided to sell the manor to a private-for-profit business and to work with the Province of Nova Scotia to determine which party completes the ask in the best interest of the councils, not in the best of the residents, but in the best interest of the councils." What has caused the councils to completely change their minds, he questioned. "Were they given information that a for-profit was a better option for the residents? Or was it a better deal for the municipal units? I don’t know the answer but perhaps Mayor Locke, Mayor Nickerson or Warden Smith, if they were here today, could enlighten us but they’re not here. We are still in the dark.” O’Donnell said it’s not necessary for the municipal units to privatize Roseway Manor to eliminate the need for providing councillors on the board. Simply changing the bylaw so board members do not have to be municipal councillors is all that is needed. “The citizens of Shelburne realize Roseway Manor is important to the general well being of our community," said O’Donnell. "It concerns me the three councils didn’t even consult with citizens in the community or residents and their family or with staff at the manor before making their decision to privatize Roseway Manor." O’Donnell encouraged the three councils “to do the right thing, reconsider and return to the non-for-profit decision.” FOR-PROFIT VERSUS NOT-FOR-PROFIT For-profit versus not-forprofit care was a topic for discussion. “We take the position that public money ought to be directed to long-term nursing homes that are owned by the public or owned on a nonprofit basis. The funds of the people of Nova Scotia should not be directed towards new facilities that are owned by private for-profit," said Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “We spent a long time looking at the difference between those ran as for-profit and those ran on a non-profit basis. We came to the conclusion we can rely more on the not-for-profit model across the board to deliver the highest possible standard of care for those who can no longer care for themselves,” said Burrill. Burrill said to be clear, he is not saying that people receive bad care in a for-profit facility. “I think we all know for-profit facilities where residents are very happy. I certainly do. This is an issue where expert opinion is unequivocal that the level of care that is provided in longterm care facilities tends to be higher in not-for-profit." In Nova Scotia, Burrill said when a private company makes a bid on a government tender it is in the procurement rules that companies are allowed to put in that bid at a 9.1 percent profit margin. "In not for profit, that 9.1 percent goes to staff… maybe the odd excursion,” said Burrill. Nan McFadgen, president of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) Nova Scotia, said the union has been lobbying for public long-term care for a long time. “We are standing on the backs of the people we are caring for in long-term care,” said McFadgen. “They built the community. We need to decide that our seniors are worth public health care and then we need to take action and do what’s required so whatever you need as a community from us, we’re here and willing to do it and want to do it. It’s in your interest and my interest to have a public facility.” Following the meeting, Stoddard said the community group that has formed is working on letters for the premier, MLA and various cabinet ministers. “The group is also going to be door knocking and putting petitions in local businesses,” he said. The petition requests the province and the three municipal units “cease any efforts” to place Roseway Manor for sale by tender “until such time as a bonafide public consultation session is conducted to determine the will of the affected population” on the matter. MUNICIPAL LEADERS RESPOND In a joint statement to Saltwire Network from Shelburne Mayor Harold Locke, Lockeport Mayor Cory Nickerson and Shelburne Warden Penny Smith, the three leaders explained why the councils decided to go the route they did and why. The statement said the councils understand that Eastern Shelburne County has an aging population, and they must ensure that the best possible care is being provided for people’s loved ones. “Considering that both notfor-profit and for-profit-operated long-term care facilities are required to meet the same provincial standards; that the per diem rate charged would be the same; and that both would likely maintain staff; the councils did look at the other factors involved and made the decision to transfer ownership to a private for-profit organization for the following reasons: 1. For-profit organizations specialize in long-term care. It is their primary business and focus. 2. The past several years have seen a number of administrator changes. We believe transferring ownership to a for-profit organization will provide stability to residents and staff of the manor. 3. Liability would reside with the qualified for-profit service provider. Council feels it is unfair to transfer this liability to a not-for-profit board, where in many cases members would be volunteers from the community. 4. Serving on a not-forprofit board requires a great deal of time and commitment. It has become very apparent to all three councils that owning and managing a long-term care facility requires certain skill sets such as backgrounds in finance, human resource management and knowledge and expertise of healthcare for seniors. At this juncture it not a simple matter of sitting on a board, it is a matter of hiring administration and undertaking the refurbishing of the current Roseway Manor or a new build. “Councils feel we are at a pivotal point pertaining to the future of Roseway Manor and wanted to ensure moving forward that the required operators and owners have the experience, expertise and knowledge of long-term care facilities,” reads the statement. “A for-profit organization, it was felt, would have all these attributes to take on these very huge tasks with significant responsibility to ensure the facility is successful. In weighing the above, the three municipal units made the decision to transfer ownership to a for-profit entity, saying they were assured by the province that the standards of care for a for-profit and not-forprofit are the same and that both models exist across the province in various locations. As part of the motion made by all three councils to transfer ownership, the CAOs and clerk treasurer were directed to work with the province to determine which party would undertake the tendering process. The administrative team for the municipal units met and agreed that the province would issue an Expression of Interest (EOI) to seek a qualified service provider (which may be a not-for-profit or a for-profit entity) to operate the current Roseway Manor, in the interim, until the transfer of ownership takes place. Ownership would transfer once the manor is either refurbished or a new facility built. The decision as to who will be the qualified service provider of Roseway Manor will be made by the province, since it is releasing the EOI. The decision requesting the province undertake the tendering process was based on the fact that the province is responsible for issuing the licences for long-term care facilities and therefore has the expertise and knowledge required to issue an EOI. “Ultimately, the province needs to approve the qualified service provider and plans for Roseway Manor,” the councils say. “Having them be the ones to issue the EOI and award the interim operations and determine who will be the owners was felt to be in the best interest of the three municipalities.” The Roseway board is committed to working with the province, the interim operator, staff and residents to make the transfer of ownership as seamless as possible, said the statement. The primary interest of the three councils and the province is to ensure that the best possible infrastructure and high-quality services are provided to those in need of long-term care in our communities, said the statement. “In Nova Scotia this quality care is being provided almost equally by not-for profit and for-profit entities. We have excellent examples of both in the province and in Shelburne County.”