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Assisted living group seeks answers

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 - 1:12pm
By Duane Hicks, Staff writer

The local Assisted Living Action Group is hoping to make an assisted living facility in Fort Frances a reality—and is looking for answers from the town.
But in receiving a letter from ALAG chair Erma Armit at last night’s meeting, mayor and council admitted they don’t have all the information the ALAG is looking for and it’s likely their questions should be posed to agencies such as the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board and Northwest Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).
Coun. John Albanese said the LHIN has spoken to council in the past couple of years, and as far he is concerned, that is the organization that likely will know all the answers to the ALAG’s questions.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft said the town should respond to which questions it’s able, and help the ALAG find answers from other agencies which would know.
“The direction in the response could be: Here’s the answer for ‘A,’ here’s your source of information for ‘B,’ here’s your source of information for ‘C,’ so they’re directed where to go through an official response from the town,” he noted.
“Assisted living is an important thing to this community,” said Coun. Andrew Hallikas.
“Although we’re not in that business, we should encourage people where we can and help where we can, so I’d suggest that we answer the questions that we can,” he added.
Coun. Ken Perry noted the Town of Fort Frances “cannot be in the business of assisted living,” but LHIN has sponsored projects in Rainy River, Kenora, and Dryden.
“When this subject has come up previously in the past few years, we’ve always been supportive,” echoed Coun. Paul Ryan.
“Of course, it’s really important. But we can’t be the lead, it’s not in our mandate,” he stressed.
“We just don’t run health-care facilities.
“So we would certainly support any organization—DSSAB or [Riverside] if they were to initiate something like this. We’d definitely be behind them, politically and otherwise,” Coun. Ryan added.
Coun. Perry said assisted living also may be something for service clubs to adopt, adding his
grandfather was in a Mennonite nursing home/assisted living facility and he wasn’t Mennonite.
He added if anyone wants to have assisted living in Fort Frances run by a private corporation, it’s very expensive, “probably so expensive that most people couldn’t afford it.”
The ALAG is asking:
•Is there a town plan in place for aging “baby boomers” who will impact the increasing cost of health care?
•Who is responsible for ensuring that seniors have appropriate housing and services?
•What is the recommended process for planning such a facility?
•What services do we currently have for older adults?
•What percentage of the population of Fort Frances is 55 or older?
•How many units do we have currently for seniors?
•What is the service utilization of these units?
•What senior services programs does the town provide?
•What is the reason for people leaving Fort Frances?
•What is the cost in lost tax revenue to the town due to this population decrease?
“We feel that such a facility would greatly benefit the town and its population,” Armit wrote.
“The benefit to the town would be in jobs and increased tax base,” she added. “In addition, there may be stabilization in population due to older residents remaining in the community.
“These residents may currently be relocating to larger centres to seek out the services we hope to provide,” Armit noted.
“Also, residents from the surrounding area may move to Fort Frances to seek out assisted living services,” she reasoned.
Council accepted the letter and directed administration to look into providing any answers it’s able to.

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