BATHURST (GNB) – The provincial government, the federal government and Atlantic Baptist Senior Citizens' Home Inc. have reached an agreement to keep the Robert L. Knowles Veterans Unit in Bathurst operating.  

"I am pleased that a solution has been developed in partnership with the Atlantic Baptist Senior Citizens' Home Inc. and the federal government that will see nursing home beds, when not in use by eligible Veterans Affairs Canada clients, offered to non-veterans and other nursing home residents," said Social Development Minister Sue Stultz. "This arrangement will ensure nursing home services remain available for veterans and other seniors in the Bathurst region."

Stultz is also the minister responsible for seniors, housing and community non-profit organizations.

Under the agreement, the Department of Social Development will add to its bed roster any vacant beds in the unit that are not needed by veterans. This arrangement will be in place for five years, beginning in March 2013, with a five-year extension if needed.   

During the initial five-year period, the provincial government and the Atlantic Baptist Senior Citizens' Home Inc. will be able to monitor and adjust to the residential needs of the Bathurst area.  

Several other initiatives – such as the 30-bed addition to Foyer Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, the creation of specialized care beds in the region and the implementation of a new policy targeted at keeping seniors in their home (Home First) – are also aimed at addressing future residential needs.

“As we work together to develop options for sustainable long-term care in the Bathurst / Chaleur area, I wish to acknowledge the support of Nepisiguit MLA Ryan Riordon,” said Stultz. “Our government is committed to the well-being of seniors, including our valued veterans, to ensure they receive the quality care they need.”