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Province has no ties to provider that sent stroke patient to Leduc hotel, Alberta ministers say

Blair Canniff has been recovering from a stroke, uses a wheelchair and is paralyzed on his left side. (CBC - image credit)
Blair Canniff has been recovering from a stroke, uses a wheelchair and is paralyzed on his left side. (CBC - image credit)

Alberta's ministers of health and seniors, community and social services say they do not fund or have any knowledge of a non-profit organization that arranged to send an Edmonton stroke patient to a hotel south of the city earlier this month.

Health Minister Adriana LaGrange told reporters on Wednesday that Blair Canniff, 62, chose the non-profit provider Contentment Social Services. That provider took him to the Travelodge in Leduc, instead of the long-term care facility like he was expecting.

But she said her department intends to investigate further, adding that Alberta Health Services' discharge policies will also be reviewed.

"What I'm really disappointed and concerned about is that the non-profit provider who actually provides non-medical housing was not clear with the patient, with the individual that they were taking them to this motel," she said. "So yeah, it's very, very upsetting."

LaGrange said that neither her ministry, nor Alberta Health Services have contracts with Contentment Social Services nor do they accredit them.

LaGrange then directed reporters to speak to Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jason Nixon who was standing nearby, who said his ministry doesn't work with the non-profit either.

"We do not fund this organization," Nixon said. "They are not a partner that we work with and we, until I read about them in the newspaper, have never heard about them and neither has anybody in my department."

Nixon said he has asked his staff and the office of the public guardian to investigate whether they have clients under the care of Contentment Social Services, and if so, if they are getting appropriate care.

"I don't even know if we have clients within this organization. We will know shortly. And again, we have no connection with them."

Another patient

The comments came after the Opposition NDP released a letter sent by Contentment Social Services to another discharged patient. The letter tells the individual, whose name is blacked out, that they are accepting applications for care at an address in Leduc. The letter does not say the facility is the Leduc Travelodge.

"Our program is unique as we offer our clients the very finest personalized daily non-medical care based on assessed needs," the letter reads. "Client will be in bachelor-style suite accommodation for the duration of one year."

Services listed in the letter include personal care, meal, medication and laundry assistance. The letter tells clients to mail a down payment and first month's rent to a co-working space in downtown Edmonton.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she is disturbed by the promises in the letter.

"This kind of snake oil is being peddled inside of our hospitals to extremely vulnerable Albertans, Albertans who will suffer and who will suffer health consequences, whose lives will be put at risk as a result of the lies included in these kinds of letters," she told reporters at the Alberta legislature.

The letter is the latest development in a story first reported by CBC News last week. Carniff, who uses a wheelchair and is paralyzed on his left side following a stroke, was taken by taxi to the Leduc motel upon discharge from the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton.

Canniff spent a week in the motel where he was given fast food meals, and struggled to get into bed and to the washroom using his wheelchair.

CBC News has tried to contact Contentment Social Services for comment, but no one has responded.

'Disappointed and concerned'

There are questions about how Canniff came to be connected with Contentment Social Services and how many others are being taken to hotels after leaving hospital.

Notley is calling on Premier Danielle Smith, who has been on a government trip to Texas this week, to get Nixon and LaGrange to do their jobs and figure this out.

"This is a profound demonstration of utter incompetence by both ministers," Notley said.

"This has been going on now for five days. There is no excuse for them not knowing the answer about how this happened."