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N.L.'s budget earmarked $10M for seniors. Details are still scarce on what the plan actually is

Close up of senior disabled woman hands holding walking stick. Detail of old woman hands holding handle of cane. Old lady holding walking stick. Stock Photo ID: 1889548966 (Ground Picture/Shutterstock - image credit)
Close up of senior disabled woman hands holding walking stick. Detail of old woman hands holding handle of cane. Old lady holding walking stick. Stock Photo ID: 1889548966 (Ground Picture/Shutterstock - image credit)
Close up of senior disabled woman hands holding walking stick. Detail of old woman hands holding handle of cane. Old lady holding walking stick. Stock Photo ID: 1889548966
Close up of senior disabled woman hands holding walking stick. Detail of old woman hands holding handle of cane. Old lady holding walking stick. Stock Photo ID: 1889548966

The recent Newfoundland and Labrador budget contained $10 million for a new seniors' well-being plan, but details remain hazy. (Ground Picture/Shutterstock)

The provincial government unveiled its new fiscal blueprint last month, which includes $10 million to support seniors. But questions still remain on what that money is going toward and how it will be delivered.

Initially, it was announced the funding was earmarked for a new seniors well-being plan. That includes grants for low-income seniors living at home for services like snow clearing, grocery delivery, home repair and benefits to caregivers.

But weeks after the announcement, Connections for Seniors's executive director Mohamed Abdallah has questions over how that funding will be allocated

"We weren't part of the consultation at the beginning, so we feel a little bit that there is a bit of uncertainty where that's going to be effective," Abdallah told CBC News.

He has spoken with community leaders and said it's not clear how the funding will be used and dispersed.

Mohamed Abdallah is a co-founders of Connections for Seniors. He says he sees need among seniors increasing daily.
Mohamed Abdallah is a co-founders of Connections for Seniors. He says he sees need among seniors increasing daily.

Connections for Seniors executive director Mohamed Abdallah says in recent years more people have been reaching out to his organization for assistance. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

"We hope to see something that is affecting the need for seniors as we are hearing a lot from seniors, for example, asking for snow clearing."

In recent years more people have been using the organization's programs. Abdallah said it would be beneficial to see organizations get stable funding over several years so they can support their clients.

Details coming

Health Minister Tom Osborne said details regarding the funding are still being finalized and that the budget hasn't been voted on yet.

He said the $10 million will go toward a comprehensive well-being plan for seniors, prioritizing home repair and modifications, funding for caregivers for individuals with high care needs, and grants for low-income seniors, which could include snow clearing, grocery delivery and help at the home.

"So it's a fulsome approach to well-being to help address some of the social determinants of health," said Osborne.

More information will be available soon, including eligibility, the application process and what are the targets, he said.

Minster Tom Osborne says a review of fertility services is coming.
Minster Tom Osborne says a review of fertility services is coming.

Health Minister Tom Osborne says more details are coming on the new seniors' well-being plan that was announced in the recent budget. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

"We do anticipate over the coming months having the program rolled out. And all of the information will then be communicated through multiple ministers, multiple departments, at that time," he said.

"So it will be this year that the program will be rolled out fully and all information on how individuals can apply and where for these programs will be provided at the time."

While Abdallah said community organizations that already support seniors weren't consulted in this plan, Osborne said the government had already spoke with thousands of people through the Health Accord consultations that took place over an almost two-year period.

"This program is based on recommendations from the Health Accord, as we work toward re-balancing the health-care system across the community, across long term care hospital services," said Osborne.

"So that we can integrate into a system that not only improves the overall health-care system, but focuses on health and overall well-being."

Rather than put money toward organizations who offer senior support services, Osborne said the seniors will get the funding.

"So seniors themselves, once they have the funding, have the autonomy and the ability and more flexibility in terms of how they use that grant funding themselves," he said.

The funding for home repair and modifications will be part of the existing home repair program through Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, he added.

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