New Brunswick announced plans Friday to add 240 new nursing home beds around the province.
A request for proposals has been issued to build four 60-bed nursing homes in Moncton, Oromocto, Bouctouche and Bathurst.
The new homes are part of Phase 3 of the government’s five-year nursing home plan, according to Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard.
“There are currently 71 licensed nursing homes across New Brunswick that provide 4,953 beds. The government plans to increase this to 81 licensed nursing homes, adding 600 beds to the system,” Shephard said in the legislature on Friday.
Interested developers have until February to submit their proposals, the province said in a news release.
Shephard said the department plans to issue another call for proposals in the coming months.
Five 60-bed nursing homes were announced during the first two phases of the nursing home plan.
Two in Moncton, one in Fredericton and one in Saint John are slated to open next year. A new facility in Saint-Isidore will open in 2024.
Liberal social development critic Robert Gauvin welcomed the news of four more nursing homes in the province.
But Gauvin said he is worried about how they will be staffed, given there is already a problem recruiting employees for existing nursing homes.
“I would urge the ministers to come back and tell us what they are aggressively pursuing to make sure that we have the people necessary that our aging population can end the last chapter of their lives in full dignity,” Gauvin said in the legislature.
Green Party leader David Coon expressed similar concerns, noting there needs to be a clear strategy to ensure the new homes can be staffed with well-trained employees.
Coon said the government also did not indicate whether the new homes will be non-profit or for-profit.
The process, in the past anyways, for seeking proposals has disadvantages non-profit nursing homes to expand or propose new homes compared to the profit-making ones,” he said.
“It concerns me and my colleagues greatly as the profit continues to expand its reach into our care sector. That shouldn’t be part of how we care for New Brunswickers.”
According to the province, 61 of the 71 existing nursing homes are operated under the traditional model by non-profit organizations governed by a board of directors. The other 10 are operated under a contract or fee-for-service model by a private sector operator.