FREDERICTON (GNB) - The following statement was issued today by Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch to highlight Nursing Home Week, June 7-13:

Nursing home employees and operators deserve our most sincere appreciation for their tireless work in this critical time, before, during and beyond this pandemic.

The past 15 months has been a difficult time for many people of this province, but despite this, nursing home workers have once again proven their real and genuine dedication towards the well-being of our most vulnerable seniors. This includes the efforts being made to get staff vaccinated in order to provide a safe environment for both the most vulnerable seniors and the workers.

Caring for seniors is a priority for our government, as we know the challenges associated with our aging demographic will be with us for years to come.

Our provincial network of nursing homes is an important component of our continuum of care for seniors.

The Department of Social Development is pleased to be a partner with all nursing homes to ensure that our long-term care system provides seniors with the right care at the right time.

There are 70 important licensed nursing homes across the province that provide 4,925 nursing home beds for our most vulnerable seniors. Our plan is to bring this number to 80 licensed nursing homes with an additional 600 beds in the coming years.

Our government also plans to increase the hours of care for residents from 3.1 to 3.3 hours by April 2022. We know that nursing homes have been advocating for this for quite some time and I am very happy that the staff in these facilities will have more time to assist in the care of the residents. This is an important step to ensure high-quality care and service for our seniors.

Once again, a very sincere thank you to all workers in New Brunswick nursing homes. Thanks to your contribution, we will continue to ensure that our most vulnerable seniors are receiving the level of care they deserve. Happy Nursing Home Week.