NDP health critic Andrew Swan called one-time funding cuts to personal care homes in Winnipeg “another direct hit to seniors.”

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NDP health critic Andrew Swan called one-time funding cuts to personal care homes in Winnipeg "another direct hit to seniors."

Personal care homes were told in July that their funding would likely be cut by a quarter of a per cent. A Winnipeg Regional Health spokeswoman said Manitoba Health approved the cut in September.

However, the news only became public this week after The Jewish Post & News reported that the Simkin Centre would be losing funding for its security services in March. That decision is meant to bring the centre in line with the other care homes overseen by the WRHA, which are responsible for funding their own security services, the spokeswoman said.

Overall, the 0.25 per cent cut is expected to save the health authority more than $1 million. That’s cause for concern, Swan said.

He told reporters Thursday that he believes every personal care home already operates under staff-to-resident ratios, meaning cuts will have to come from sources other than employees.

"Are they going to cut the things that make life more comfortable for Manitoba seniors?" Swan said. "I don’t want seniors to have the cut taken out of their food budget."

The WRHA will realize the largest savings from St. Amant’s River Road Place, Actionmarguerite Inc. in St. Boniface and Parkview Place. River Road Place has to cut its budget by more than $82,000, while Actionmarguerite needs to find more than $56,000 in savings and Parkview Place must find more than $47,000.

Swan said it’s a hard pill to swallow given longtime concerns around access to care home beds. Seniors are "concerned that there’s a critical shortage," he said, and now they have to face cuts to existing beds.

In question period, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen rejected that characterization, saying "the government has provided increased support when it comes to health care."

He blamed problems with personal care home access on the former NDP government. He did not speak to reporters after question period Thursday.

Eleven beds opened this week at Deer Lodge Centre for patients in the special needs behavioural unit, bringing the centre’s total specialized beds to 32. There are currently 74 personal care home beds for those needing specialized care across the region.

In September, Goertzen announced 258 new personal care home beds were in the works, the first since the Conservative government axed plans for hundreds of similar beds months earlier.

Swan said he doesn’t want the WRHA funding cut to mean personal care home residents lose access to recreational programming or outings.

According to a WRHA spokeswoman, outings and programming aren’t at risk.

— with files from Nick Martin