Fraser Health has decided to impose controversial $25 a month wheelchair rental fee at its 16 long-term care homes.

Wheelchair fee blocked in Vancouver but rolls into Fraser

Health authority defends decision to proceed with controversial charge in residential care homes

Fraser Health has gone ahead and imposed a controversial $25 a month wheelchair rental fee at its 16 long-term care homes even though the neighbouring Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has decided to hold off.

Seniors have until now had free use of wheelchairs in publicly run residential care homes.

Fraser Health was the first B.C. health authority to notify residents in June that if they needed a wheelchair and didn’t own one or rent one from another vendor, they would have to pay starting Sept. 1, unless they applied for and received a hardship waiver.

At that time it was expected the policy would be consistent province-wide.

Vancouver Coastal spokesman Gavin Wilson said residents there were about to also be notified of the change when a public backlash over the idea prompted the health ministry to embark on a review of all allowable fees.

“It raised the issue that there are a lot of inconsistencies not only between health authorities but even within health authorities about how these fees are applied,” WIlson said.

Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma said the authority decided to proceed with the fee since more than 1,000 notifications had already been sent to residents in its facilities and some had completed forms or begun appying for hardship waivers.

“Rather than create confusion, we decided to say the wheelchair fee remains in place and continue the path of helping those who cannot afford it to go through the waiver process,” she said.

Juma said the fee has been “quite well accepted with regard to the residents we’ve had contact with.”

NDP leader Adrian Dix said Fraser officials should reverse the fee, which won’t actually start to be debited from residents’ accounts until the end of September.

He noted it’s the only B.C. health authority that will now be charging for wheelchair rentals.

“It’s not a good idea, it’s regressive and it requires a lot of energy to collect,” Dix said.

“Being ahead of all the other health authorities on an issue like the wheelchair tax is not the right place to be.”

The province argued that the fee, aimed to recover maintenance costs for the wheelchairs, was fair because residents who live in their own homes or in many privately run homes don’t get them for free.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey bylaw’s tactics with Uber drivers deemed ‘entrapment’ and ‘completely wrong’

That’s what Councillors Brenda Locke and Linda Annis had to say Monday about city staff hailing Uber drivers then issuing them warnings

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Two men charged with first-degree murder in 2019 Surrey case

Two men charged with first-degree murder in killing of Andrew Baldwin, 30, in Surrey

‘Our Surrey Vision’ report to be made public Thursday

Community-engagement project launched by Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association last year

COLUMN: Ontario ride-hailing experience has implications for Surrey

Ride-hailing is now operating in B.C., in a lightning-quick response to the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sex assaults linked, RCMP ask women not to walk alone in Coquitlam park

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Most Read