The Yukon government said it will continue to increase access to supportive housing options for low-income seniors and elders.
The territorial government recently signed a second lease to provide an additional 16 units for a total of 26 inclusive rental suites at the Normandy Living Independent Seniors Living Community in Whitehorse, according to a July 25 press release.
Julie Ménard, who works in communications for the Yukon Housing Corporation, told the News by phone Aug. 3 that the suites all have tenants allocated, meaning none of the 26 units are currently up for rent. Menard said the territorial government is still encouraging people to apply for those suites in case tenants’ situations change.
The supportive living facility has a total of 84 suites. It officially opened on Dec. 1, 2022 and is operated by KBC Developments Inc.
The statement said the additional suites are for low-income seniors and elders through the Yukon Housing Corporation. Eligible clients pay 25 per cent of their income towards rent and 40 per cent towards services including meals, housekeeping and laundry.
“Normandy Living provides a modern and supportive housing option for seniors and elders who would benefit from additional support but are not in need of long-term care,” the statement reads. “This helps support Yukon seniors to live safe and independent lives for longer, while reducing pressures on long-term care.”
In the release, Premier Ranj Pillai said the housing options offer “increased access to more affordable and high-quality housing to meet the growing and diverse needs of Yukon seniors and elders.
“This investment reflects our government’s commitment to increase the supply of available housing stock with a focus on supporting the most vulnerable and improving affordability,” he said.
Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee highlighted the Aging in Place Action Plan, noting the government remains “committed to supporting safe, independent and comfortable living for seniors and elders to support them in living easier, healthier and happier lives.”
During the Yukon Legislative Assembly sitting in April, Yukon NDP Leader Kate White and Yukon Party Leader Curie Dixon agreed that the facility is beautiful and the tenants are happy living there.
However, White said according to emails obtained from an access-to-information request, the owners of Normandy are “very concerned about the financial viability of the project — so much so that they are lobbying to get more money from this government.”
White demanded to know how much more public money the government is willing to invest in the for-profit facility.
Pillai debunked claims that Normandy Living was funded with $40 million of public money. He explained the project was supported with approximately $34 million from the federal government through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), $4.5 million from the Yukon government through the Yukon Housing Corporation as well as private investments.
“Our government’s support for this project reflects a commitment to supporting a wider range of housing options for seniors in a way that aligns with our Aging in Place Action Plan while addressing the housing pressures that Yukoners are feeling, along with the housing continuum,” Pillai said.
White said the territory needs more affordable and supported housing for seniors.
“What we don’t need is this government funding the bottom line of a for-profit enterprise,” she argued.
Pillai explained that there are no plans to put in more funding to the project, noting his main interest is filling the available 26 units at the Normandy Living.
Dixon said it is reasonable for the Yukon government to secure spaces, although funding deserves scrutiny.
— With files from Dana Hatherly
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