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Sunday , 7 March 2021

Municipalities expect M.D. Foundation requisition to double in 2021

Members of the M.D. of St. Paul Foundation have been told to expect significant increases to their requisitions in 2021 because of increasing costs to the Foundation.

The Foundation manages subsidized apartments for low-income seniors who are still able to live independently, as well as a number of supportive living facilities in St. Paul and Elk Point. It is regulated under the Alberta Housing Act and requisitions funding through municipal taxes, similar to how schools are funded. Members of the Foundation include the County of St. Paul, Town of St. Paul, and Town of Elk Point.

According to Town of St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller in her report to town council on Jan. 11, the town is expecting the requisition amount for the MD to roughly double in 2021.

“The restrictions regarding the pandemic are not going to lift until the government–federally and provincially–lift them out of pandemic. So until enough people are immunized or, we get a herd immunity somehow [we don’t expect] that they will be lifted as far as the PPE and the extensive amount of PPE that’s required in there that wasn’t there before,” said Miller.

Town of St. Paul CAO Kim Heyman said the town’s share of the roughly $600,000 requisition last year was approximately $154,000 so for budgeting purposes she is planning for $308,000 in 2021.

The County of St. Paul contributed $410,783 to the MD Foundation in 2020, while the Town of Elk Point chipped in $37,815. Elk Point CAO Ken Gwozdz confirmed the number they are planning for in 2021 is roughly $70,000.

According to Brigitte Sakaluk, CAO for the M.D. of St. Paul Foundation, the reason they are expecting the increase in 2021 is primarily because of COVID-19. Sakaluk declined to confirm the amount of the anticipated increase as the Foundation’s budget has not yet been finalized and the requisition will not be sent to the member municipalities until the spring.

She noted in 2020 the Foundation received a grant through the province which helped offset the costs of COVID-19, but that grant is due to expire as of March 31 and they haven’t received any communication yet that it will be renewed or replaced.

In 2020, Alberta Health Services provided the surgical masks required, but the Foundation has also not been told if that will continue past March 31.

“We haven’t been given any specifics of when we have to pick that cost up, so we’re assuming as of March 31,” said Sakaluk.

She said in 2020 they spent $22,329 on extra PPE which includes gloves, some masks, gowns, booties, shields, goggles and head covers etc., as well as $12,000 on extra cleaning supplies.

In an e-mail after the interview, Sakaluk said that in addition to the amount of PPE required increasing the base cost of those items has also gone up significantly.

“In 2019 we could purchase 100 count of gloves for $40.40. Today the cost is $80.64. In 2019 we used PPE some of the time, now we use PPE all of the time,” said Sakaluk.

Other costs which the Foundation has seen increase include grocery costs and the federal carbon levy.

“The carbon levy is paid for by the foundation. We receive no rebate for this, the residents receive the carbon levy rebate but we pay the carbon levy.”

“Plus during the onset of COVID, last year, nobody was in nobody was out,” said Sakaluk. “So we have more vacancies than would be typical for our lodges.”

According to the M.D. of St. Paul Foundation website, there are currently six vacancies at Elk Point Heritage Lodge and four vacancies at Sunnyside Manor in St. Paul.

Sakaluk said that because of the stories people have heard about the situation in seniors homes “down east” they’ve been very hesitant to move in.

“We do have a waitlist. And I would say that for the majority of them, they’ve been contacted,” said Sakaluk.

She said the other thing which slowed them down in 2020 was the outbreak status, which is declared when there are two or more cases in a supportive living home.

“We do have some that want to come in, but we have to wait until after outbreak is lifted,” said Sakaluk.

An outbreak declared at St. Paul’s Sunnyside Manor on Dec. 24 is expected to be lifted on Jan. 29.

According to Sakaluk all of the residents at the Elk Point Heritage Lodge have now received their first doses of vaccine for COVID-19 and they expect to immunize the residents at Sunnyside in the near future.

About Meredith Kerr

Meredith Kerr moved to St. Paul for a career in journalism and morning radio in 2014 expecting to stay for six months to a year. Since then, she has put down roots in the form of a husband, a mortgage, two babies, and a poorly behaved dog. She continues to work as a reporter until such time as she finishes her book and becomes fabulously wealthy from the royalties. Meredith also serves as a member at large on the St. Paul Library Board and volunteers as a Beaver leader for the 1st St. Paul Scout Group.