The Government of Nova Scotia announced a new law that will prevent senior couples who require care from being separated.
On Thursday, the province said as part of its Life Partners in Long-Term Care Act, spouses will be placed together in long-term care facilities effective March this year.
In the past, many lifelong partners have been separated into different facilities in order to get the care they require in a timely manner.
"Couples who have loved and supported each other should not have to face being separated when they enter long-term care," said Premier Stephen McNeil in a news release on Thursday. "This legislation helps ensure life partners can stay together as they age, even if one person may need a different level of long-term care."
The new act will allow spouses, common law, and domestic partners to be placed together at the highest care level required.
"For example, if one spouse requires nursing home care and one requires residential care, the couple would be placed in a nursing home," wrote the province in a news release on Thursday.
The province's opposition parties are supporting the legislation but say it is long overdue.
"Dignity for seniors is something that's a passion of ours," said Tim Houston, Nova Scotia PC Leader. "We've released some plans on that as to what we would do to make sure seniors can live with dignity in their later years. We owe it to seniors. I am happy to see some kind of move on that."
Seniors advocacy groups are also applauding the move saying spouses deserve to stay together, regardless of their health situation.
"We have been asking for years for that to happen as we hear these stories of couples who had lived a lifetime together and then were split up when one had to go into a long-term care facility," said Bill VanGorder, chief policy officer for the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.
"There should be single-floor, smaller facilities, where people can be treated like people, and not like people just locked away in a facility."
Nova Scotia recently announced 236 new long-term care beds in the Central zone, along with the replacement or renovation of seven nursing homes across the province.
The Life Partners in Long-Term Care Act takes effect on March 1.