Last week the B.C. government took control of a fourth retirement home from Retirement Concepts, British Columbia’s largest chain of for-profit care homes, citing neglect of seniors.
The home in Summerland joins homes in Comox, Nanaimo and Victoria that are already under the control of B.C’s health authorities. In total, 30 per cent of the long-term care beds that Retirement Concepts owns are now being run by government agents. The company is paid by taxpayers to provide care, but the health authorities are clawing back the cost of running those facilities they now control.
Retirement Concepts was established in 1988 and in 2016 the federal government’s Investment Review Division accepted the foreign takeover of Retirement Concepts by Anbang Insurance Group.
A few months after the purchase, the chairman of Anbang was jailed for fraud by Chinese authorities and the company was put under the control of China’s insurance regulator. The Chinese government then created the Dajia Insurance Group to take control of all the assets and look into possibly selling them to foreign investors.
In summary Retirement Concepts is the largest provider of long-term care in British Columbia, and it’s owned by a state-backed Chinese insurance company. A foreign-owned, for-profit company which is repeatedly providing wholly inadequate care to our seniors.
My questions were to see if the government would be proactive in addressing the clear pattern of inadequate seniors care we see emerging. They must hold the company accountable, ensure our elders are receiving the care they deserve, and make sure we are not paying a foreign company that continues to fail our seniors.
CARE STANDARDS AT RETIREMENT CONCEPTS SENIORS CARE FACILITIES
Last week the B.C. government took control of yet another senior’s home owned by Retirement Concepts. They were forced do this because of neglect of seniors.
This is the fourth Retirement Concepts facility that authorities have taken over, and there are serious concerns about others. One family just filed a class action lawsuit against another Retirement Concepts facility, citing negligence, emotional and physical injuries and wrongful death.
Retirement Concepts is the largest provider of long-term care in British Columbia, and it’s owned by a state-backed Chinese insurance company. A foreign-owned, for-profit company is repeatedly providing wholly inadequate care to our seniors. We are seeing a clear pattern here.
It’s not enough to intervene in just the most egregious cases or to react to whistle-blowers. It seems that for- profit care homes are allowed to repeatedly put profit margins ahead of care.
My question is to the Minister of Health. Beyond simply responding to these situations when they come to light, how is the minister holding this company accountable and ensuring that our elders are not facing inadequate care and neglect?
Hon. A. Dix:
Indeed, the situation at Retirement Concepts is a serious situation, but I want to put this very much in context. What has happened at Retirement Concepts in Comox, in Nanaimo, in Victoria and now in Summerland is a serious situation that comes through a very formal process led by medical officers of health.
That process and taking over a facility has happened seven times since 1990. Six of those are by Retirement Concepts. It’s very important not to suggest that other care providers are in the same boat. This is, in this case, a Retirement Concepts problem. We need to address it, and they need to address it.
Last week they were called to a meeting — including the new parent company, called Daja — that was called with the Deputy Minister of Health. We’ve clearly laid out our expectations that this situation cannot continue.
Our administrators are doing, I think, an excellent job in bringing these facilities up to standard. I think we have to continue to do that work. It is unacceptable that the government of British Columbia is running 511 of Retirement Concepts’ 1,641 beds. That’s 31 percent of their beds. It is not good enough, and we are going to continue to take action until they’re brought up to standard.
Leader of the Third Party on a supplemental.
To be very clear, this question is about Retirement Concepts and Retirement Concepts alone. I’m glad to hear the response from the minister. I’m glad to hear that his staff are taking action. I’m really concerned about the situation that exists. There are still a number of rooms that are controlled by this company. I think that the concern continues to arise knowing that there are seniors that are still under the care of this company.
The minister said — this was a few months ago: “Whenever there are changes in ownership in care homes, we have to review to see if there are changes required.” As the minister just noted, the former company Anbang has been restructured, and now the company that controls Retirement Concepts is under a new state-backed insurance group. It could be argued that these are significant changes in ownership.
My question is to the Minister of Health. Will the government take immediate steps to take control of the remainder of the Retirement Concepts homes to ensure that all seniors can rely on getting the care that they need in our province?
Hon. A. Dix:
Well, the takeover of Retirement Concepts occurred in 2016. The review of such takeovers is made by Investment Canada. Concerns were expressed, certainly by me and other British Columbians, about that takeover at that time. But the federal government approved the takeover.
I don’t want anyone at Retirement Concepts or anyone else to think that people are going to take this responsibility away from them. They have the responsibility to provide care. We have the responsibility to regulate, and we will.
I think it’s an important consideration here, the company in question. It is why, in this case — after Comox and after Nanaimo and after Victoria and now after Summerland — we contacted and have met and will continue to meet not just with Retirement Concepts as a company or the operating company — which are the old owners, by the way — but the holding company to make sure that everybody is held accountable here, because seniors are in care right now. They deserve our support, and they will have it.