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The provincial government is offering more cash and extending a deadline for private seniors' residences to install sprinkler systems.

Five years ago 32 seniors died at the Residence Du Havre in L’Isle-Verte when fire broke out in a wing of the building that did not have sprinklers.

In the wake of that tragedy the provincial government ordered all existing residences to install sprinkler systems by 2020 and at the time estimated it would cost those residences $260 million over a five-year period for the upgrade.

By January 2018 about half of the seniors homes in the province had installed sprinkler systems, but in order to get the remaining residences up to code as quickly as possible the Liberal government increased subsidies and made the application process simpler.

A year-and-a-half later the CAQ government has extended the deadline until 2022 and is increasing the subsidies even more.

Seniors Minister Marguerite Blais said the owners of private residences told the CAQ government they needed more support and time.

"Before, we used to finance for five years: two payments each year. So it was very difficult for small residences to be able to go and get the money in the bank and to finance the program to support this type of money. $200,000, $300,000. It was too much," said Blais.

Under the revised plan each unit will be eligible for a greater subsidy – up to $5000 – and the government will hand over 25 per cent of the subsidy as soon as the company signs a contract with an entrepreneur.

As of March 2019, more than 800 out of the nearly 1,800 private seniors' residences in the province still did not have sprinklers.

According to Blais, only 57 residences benefitted from the financing available under the previous government's program.

About 130,000 people in Quebec live in seniors' homes, one-third of which have more than 50 units.

With a file from Maya Johnson