The NWT government has more than halved its estimate of the number of long-term care beds the territory will require by the year 2034.
In 2015, using five years of data, the territorial government projected it would require 435 new long-term care beds by the time two decades had passed. On Thursday, health minister Julie Green said the NWT now placed that figure at an extra 169 beds.
“Staff worked with the NWT Bureau of Statistics to redo the estimate of long-term care beds,” Green told the legislature.
“We will not require as many new beds as we thought in 2015.
“This is a dramatic change and these new long-term care bed projections will require a shift in the department’s current plans for capital spending in several NWT communities.”
Green said the department would begin conversations with communities about how its plans may now change.
The significant reduction in the estimated number of beds required comes from a change in methodology.
Statisticians used 10 years of long-term care data and adopted modelling intended to more closely replicate the way other Canadian jurisdictions approach the same forecasting exercise, the territorial government said.
As a result, the GNWT concluded current long-term care bed use in the territory amounts to 72 people per 1,000 residents aged 70 and older. In 2015, the estimate put that figure at 115 per 1,000.
The difference between that 2015 estimate and the current figure accounts for most of the change, Green said.
In addition, the NWT now has long-term care beds in Norman Wells and Behchokǫ̀ that didn’t exist in 2015.
“The revised bed projections will not result in a reduction of services for seniors,” said Green.
“We will use our home and community care resources more effectively. This means that seniors will receive the support they need in their home communities for as long as possible without going into long-term care.”
Thursday’s announcement comes four months after Green said designs for new 48-bed long-term care facilities in Hay River and Inuvik were on hold.
In November last year, the minister said her government was missing $31.5 million needed to build those facilities after construction costs increased.
What will now happen to plans for those facilities was not immediately clear.