City to help fix St. Joseph’s Villa's roof

Administrators at St. Joseph’s Villa were exhaling a sigh of relief Wednesday. The long-term care facility got the nod of approval from city council for a new roof.
During budget deliberations on Tuesday, councillors discussed a motion brought forward by Mayor Brian Bigger to provide financial assistance to the villa. As he explained, their infrastructure needs have grown and are becoming increasingly urgent, and the costs of addressing COVID-19 have presented challenges for the long-term care home.


“We’re talking about a leaky roof; we’re talking about a senior lying in bed and the water is leaking on top of them,” Bigger said. “This is something that has to be done.”

The villa has an annual operating budget of $10 million; its primary sources of revenue are the Ministry of Long-Term Care (65 per cent) and individual resident fees (33 per cent).

“Although St. Joseph’s Villa still receives $10.35 per day, per bed (approximately $480,000 per year) in construction funding, it does not receive ‘minor capital’ funding from the Ministry of Long-Term Care as Pioneer Manor does on a per bed basis for older beds,” the budget document indicated.
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According to the resolution, St. Joseph’s was seeking a contribution of $1 million over three years, or $333,333 in each of 2021, 2022 and 2023. Ward 6 Coun. Rene Lapierre introduced an amendment, however, to reduce the municipal contribution to $500,000, or $250,000 in each of 2022 and 2023, to be drawn from the capital budget. According to Lapierre’s amendment, there was no impact to the 2021 tax levy.
The city contribution will be added to the villa’s capital campaign, Caring Beyond, which aims to assist the facility with its infrastructure needs.
“The facility on South Bay Road is 18 years old and priorities for capital investment include upgrades to mechanical building components, especially heating, cooling and ventilation,” the budget document indicated.

As Bigger explained, senior levels of government will provide about $3.2 million in funding for the 128-bed home to assist with their $4.1-million, three-year retrofit program, which includes $1.2 million for a new roof; upgrades to the heating, AC and ventilation systems; new windows; beds and mattresses; kitchen and bathroom equipment, including therapeutic tubs; as well as chairs and blanket warmers.

Not all councillors were on board with Bigger’s resolution.
Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti expressed some concerns. He said the facility only serves a “very small percentage of the population” and he questioned why a building that is only 18 years old needs so much work.
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“It’s not an old building by any means, so I struggle with doing capital improvements on a building that, in my opinion, should have warranties or other measures put in place, instead of coming to council for an ask,” Signoretti said.
While many organizations have come forward seeking financial assistance from council, Signoretti pointed out there are several others who have not and who are weathering the storm themselves.
“There are others who haven’t come forward who are struggling and who possibly want municipal funding, but they have not taken that route,” he said.

He said several businesses and organizations are “trying to figure it out with federal or provincial monies.”

Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini also expressed some reservations; however, Bigger admonished him at one point by reminding him council previously offered financial assistance to the hospice. Vagnini sits on the hospice board.

“As far as the funding, I’m quite sure we provided $750,000 of funding towards the hospice, so for somebody who is on the hospice board to suggest that St. Joe’s Villa should not get any funding … it illustrates a dilemma that all of us on council are dealing with,” Bigger said.

Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan, who seconded the motion, pointed out St. Joseph’s Villa is not a for-profit company or a small business. In fact, he said it and Pioneer Manor are the only two non-profit long-term care homes in Greater Sudbury.

“I hope we can find a way to help them out,” he said.

Ultimately, council voted unanimously in favour of $500,000 in funding for St. Joseph’s Villa.
Twitter: @marykkeown
Facebook: @mkkeown
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