Quebec wants to make it easier for seniors’ residences to be certified, but the proposed changes are worrying critics that seniors could be at risk.
Under the planned changes, seniors’ residences in Quebec will fall into two basic categories: those for autonomous seniors and those for semi-autonomous seniors.
Opponents say that's where the problem lies.
“This regulation is not enough to address the problem of persons who are not autonomous, who have an important loss of their autonomy,” explained lawyer Jean-Pierre Menard.
That includes people with mobility issues and those with problems like dementia.
Advocates say those residents should be living in a government-run facility, but finding a spot in one of those facilities may be very difficult.
“For several years, the government has cut the number of places available in a public long-term facility,” said Menard, adding that under the planned changes, Quebec is trying to transfer its responsibility to the private sector, where he said people's needs are frequently not met.
Opponents worry the government's plan to ease certification will lead to relaxed regulations.
“More powers, more discretion, more business will be available for these people owning these private premises without the framework,” said Paul Brunet, Conseil pour la protection des malades.
The framework should provide more surveillance and government norms to respect, he said.
In January 2014, a devastating fire swept through a seniors’ facility in the town of L’Isle Verte, killing 32 seniors.
The coroner's report recommended increased supervision in homes that accepted non-autonomous seniors.
Brunet said the planned changes don't seem to take that into account.
“In terms of inspection, in terms of what they will offer,” said Brunet.
Opponents are concerned that homes trying to turn a profit won't have the resources to properly care for their most vulnerable residents.
The government's new regulations are expected to be adopted and put in to effect before Christmas.