Quebec offering more money for sprinklers in seniors' homes

The Couillard government is making it easier to outfit the province's seniors' homes with sprinkler systems.

On Jan. 23, 2014, 32 people died when fire tore through the Residence Le Havre in L'Isle Verte. The section of the home where the deaths occurred didn't have a functioning sprinkler system installed.

A subsequent investigation found that barely a third of Quebec seniors' homes were equipped with adequate sprinkler systems.

Since then, the province passed legislation requiring seniors' residences to have a working system installed by 2020  — though many that ran the homes balked at the steep cost of having them installed.

On Thursday, the Couillard government announced it was beefing up subsidies to seniors' homes by $68 million.

That would essentially cover 100 per cent of the costs associated with installing sprinklers in homes with 30 or fewer units, 80 per cent for those with 31-99 units, 60 per cent of the cost for those with more than 100 units, and the entire cost of retrofitting a non-profit residence, regardless of the number of units.

Health minister Gaetan Barrette says they made their decision after consulting with owners of seniors' homes.

"They told us there was a problem, there is not enough money, and there is an administrative formula that is problematic, too complicated. So we proceeded to make adjustments, adjustments that we are announcing today," said Barrette.
Yves Desjardins, CEO of the Quebec Seniors' Residences Association, says the extra money will be a big help, especially for owners of smaller residences.

"We take care of seniors and we want to protect them as much as we can," said Desjardins. "So with the money, and the process will be easier, we have all what we need to proceed with the installations."