ESTEVAN - The Government of Saskatchewan has allocated another $1 million towards a new nursing home in Estevan, but local residents will have to keep waiting for construction to begin.
The provincial budget, released last Wednesday, shows that for the third straight year, there is money for the long-awaited facility. The government provided $275,000 in 2021-22 and $200,000 for 2022-23.
"This brings us to nearly a million and a half [dollars in support]," said Don Kindopp, the chairman of the new nursing home committee. "It shows a commitment by the government to getting the nursing home replaced."
The money for the upcoming fiscal year is more than double what had been allocated the past two years combined.
Kindopp said the money in the previous budgets was for planning, including an updated needs assessment that the provincial government required. He expects the $1 million will go to looking at the various plans and options around the new nursing home.
"We continue to be reassured that as the local committee, we will have some influence, we will look at options and the overall plans for the new nursing home," he said.
The latest needs assessment from the government is apparently finished, he said, but the new nursing home committee has not been made privy of the document's contents. Needs assessments that he has seen have looked at the demographics of the area, future long-term care beds in the region, facility location, delivery of service, requirements for the residents and more.
"I'm sure there will be factors weighing whether we should locate it on the grounds of St. Joe's Hospital or whether we should locate it somewhere else," he said.
It will also look at what is best to meet the needs of long-term care residents and what provides the best home-like environment for them.
"Some of the standards for long-term care that have been looked at in several provinces and with the new federal government guidelines on long-term care, I think all those factors will be worked into the needs assessment to come up with the location and design of the facility," he said.
During the past six to seven weeks, a lot of people have stopped him to ask about what is happening with the new nursing home, which he said reflects the level of interest in the project that remains in the community.
Kindopp believes the government wants to see the new nursing home completed, but there are a lot of procedural steps that need to happen.
Estevan MLA Lori Carr said she was pleased to see the $1 million included in the budget.
"All of the architectural pieces will come next. Obviously, the work needs to be done before we proceed with the build."
Carr said all aspects of the planning must take place before construction can begin.
The new nursing home committee and the provincial government were supposed to meet on March 28 to discuss the contents of the needs assessment document, but the meeting had to be postponed.
"My understanding is that the needs assessment has to go before the government for approval before it comes to us," said Kindopp.
That meeting is now slated to happen in the first half of May.
"It is tough having to say, 'We're going to hear 'The needs assessment is soon to be completed, and then when it was completed, we had a meeting planned and then the meeting was called off."
Kindopp also noted that the new nursing home committee was saddened to hear of the death in mid-March of Vern Buck, who was a valued member of the new nursing home committee and the chairman of the Hearthstone Community campaign, which served as the fundraising arm for the new nursing home committee.
The new Estevan Regional Nursing Home committee has had the necessary 20 per cent in funding for a new building to proceed since 2015.