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Winter Price Meltdown
by Isabel Mosseler
A discussion at the June 18 council meeting has many people worried over the future of Au Château Home for the Aged, and the possible loss of 2/3 of its beds despite the high demand from area seniors and an ageing population. The situation discussed is not new, and has been brought to council before, but as the deadline to find a solution nears, concern is mounting and the urgency is being felt.
That’s why Jacques Dupuis, Administrator of Au Château, sent a letter sounding the alarm, reminding again that a funding agreement struck in 1984, providing $638K in annual funding for 102 hostel beds at Au Château, is expiring December 31, 2020. He requested that the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board (DNSSAB) begin negotiations as soon as possible to extend or renew the agreement.
Dupuis had brought this issue before council in 2017, indicating that negotiations should begin in 2019 or 2020, otherwise the 102 beds could be at risk. The original agreement was struck between Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC – federal), the Province of Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing, and the West Nipissing Non-Profit Housing Corporation, whereby one building to house 40 senior units, and special care facility comprising 102 hostel beds were constructed.
Mayor Joanne Savage told council that the agreement was expected to end in 2021 and the program it fell under no longer exists. “They are trying to see if a program exists that fits the parameters of this agreement that was put in place 35 years ago. If that agreement is not renewed and we lose out on the contribution of $640K, it will put a strain on the operation budget and they will have to come to the municipalities of West Nipissing and Temagami to make up the shortfall.”
Mayor Savage asked council to support a delegation to AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario) to highlight the need for a program to replace the old one. Councillor Yvon Duhaime concurred that the situation was concerning but said he was hopeful the funding could be retained in some way. “Once you have [a family member] at Au Chateau… you recognize how important it is to the community.” Coun. Lise Sénécal added, “We need to keep those beds, it’s clear it’s an essential service in West Nipissing… The population of seniors is growing every year.”