Pioneer Manor had little choice other than to allow a resident to live there virtually rent-free for five years, city council heard Jan. 21.
The resident, who can't be named because of privacy rules, moved there in 2011, and paid the roughly $1,800 a month rent for the first two years.
Pioneer Manor director Aaron Archibald said payments after 2013 became a growing issue.
“There was sporadic moments throughout the years when money was coming in, then no money the next month,” Archibald said.
The manor took all the steps they could to recover the amount owed, which grew to more than $75,000 before the resident passed away in 2018. The manor can't garnish old age pensions, Archibald said, and residents can't be evicted from an LTC home in Ontario for not paying rent.
“We have very limited authority to deal with” these situations, he said.
Promises of payment were made by the person with the resident's power of attorney, but they failed to materialize.
“Multiple requests for payment were sent to the resident’s power of attorney, including a final registered letter in January 2015,” a report on the matter says. “In July 2015, the POA indicated that she was expecting a $50,000 settlement, and that it would be used to settle the past due amounts. She also promised to redirect all of the resident’s finances to Pioneer Manor to avoid future missed payments.”
When that didn't happen, Greater Sudbury Police were asked to investigate the case as fraud, and the city's legal department got involved seeking a restitution order.
“Both of these efforts failed to yield positive results with regard to collecting the past due amounts,” the report said.
In 2018, the city was successful in having the public guardian take over the handling of the resident's affairs, but the guardian doesn’t have the power to pay past debts.
Ward 5 Coun. Bob Kirwan wondered why the province wouldn't step in and take over payments.
Archibald said when a LTC resident can't afford the rent, upper levels of government will step in to subsidize the gap between the person's income and the monthly rent.
Usually, residents are happy to have the home handle those arrangements, Archibald said, but not in this case.
“This resident wouldn’t allow us to do that for them,” he said.
Because the province subsidizes LTC homes, through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, it will pay half of the debt, leaving the city owed $37,500.
Pioneer Manor's budget already includes an amount set aside for bad debts, and that amount has already been accounted for.