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Greens press P.E.I. government to beef up security at public seniors homes

Interim Green Party leader Karla Bernard questions Housing Minister Rob Lantz about security in public seniors homes during an exchange in the P.E.I. Legislature on Tuesday. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. - image credit)
Interim Green Party leader Karla Bernard questions Housing Minister Rob Lantz about security in public seniors homes during an exchange in the P.E.I. Legislature on Tuesday. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. - image credit)

The P.E.I. government says it is taking steps to improve security at its publicly owned seniors complexes.

Interim Green Party leader Karla Bernard raised the issue in the P.E.I. Legislature on Tuesday, saying she had heard of two instances "involving knives and people seeking shelter" at publicly owned homes.

"Seniors are feeling so unsafe in their homes that they are changing the way that they live their lives, to ensure that they are in their apartments before dark and until the morning at least," she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of  Housing, Land and Communities said there were safety concerns recently at Champion Court which required police involvement.

Champion Court is a seniors housing facility owned by the P.E.I. Housing Corporation.

The building is near the former Community Outreach Centre in Charlottetown. Nearly two years ago, some residents in the facility raised concerns about non-residents coming into the building, as well as allegations of inadequate cleaning.

'Keys have been floating around'

Housing Minister Rob Lantz said it was concerning to hear about the incidents. He said the province has added a security guard to the Champion Court building, and will look for other ways to improve security at government-owned facilities for seniors.

He said many of the province's buildings for seniors are old and have keyed entry.

"Some of those keys have been floating around, handed to relatives and various people over the years," Lantz said, "and it's hard to keep track of who actually has access to these buildings.

"So we're investing money in electronic key card access, and doing what we can to provide a safe and secure home for our seniors in our public housing.

Bernard responded by saying key cards have been mentioned by government as a solution for years, but said that while the province acknowledges the problem, "There are still little to no housing options for people who are not able to live safely and independently."

Lantz replied the government is investing in programs to help seniors stay at home as long as possible, and takes "the security of our seniors in our public buildings very seriously."