Skip to main content

Life-lease protection society 'pleased' with government efforts to help them recover money

The Government of Alberta tabled new legislation Monday that, if passed, would give constituents the ability to remove and replace their elected officials in between general elections. (File Photo) The Government of Alberta tabled new legislation Monday that, if passed, would give constituents the ability to remove and replace their elected officials in between general elections. (File Photo)
Share

The president of a group fighting to help almost 200 Alberta seniors and their families get their money back from so-called life-lease housing arrangements says a meeting Thursday with the province "was very productive."

Karin Dowling, who heads the Alberta Life Lease Protection Society, said her group's meeting with Premier Danielle Smith and Minister Dale Nally offered her group a chance "to provide some insight as to what we were having concerns with."

"We were very pleased to hear that they were listening and willing to do what they can in order to help us resolve our issues," Dowling told media on Thursday at the Alberta legislature.

Members of the non-profit society say they want Smith's government to revisit Bill 12 "to ensure that some of the loopholes that we saw ourselves were covered."

The Alberta government introduced the bill on March 18, saying the legislation would establish consistent requirements for life leases.

Dowling said "it was a plus" to put their faces to the stories for the government leadership, to "describe the emotions, the stress, the anxiety, the depression that all of these families are incurring, because of the lack of repayment."

The life-lease concept, which has existed for decades, sees leaseholders loan a housing company a large sum of money as an entrance fee that typically goes toward the building's mortgage in exchange for an apartment in an assisted living-style facility with on-site health supports, sometimes at little-to-no cost.

More recently, when people are looking to pull out of the arrangement, they're finding they're unable to get relatively easy access to the funds they'd given to the facility's operator.

Dowling said one operator, Christenson Group of Companies, is still withholding $60 million from 183 seniors and their families.

Christenson told CTV News Edmonton in a statement last month his company is working behind the scenes to free up the life-lease money for the families.

He said about 170 people are in the life-lease repayment queue and that about 400 residents are still on life-lease contracts at the nine Christenson facilities that have them.

Nally told media Thursday at the legislature he isn't aware of any amendments to the bill in front of the legislature but that if someone puts forward a "thoughtful" one, "we'll debate it on its merits and then make a decision."

He added that the province doesn't plan to pursue retroactive payment for those who've already cancelled contracts.

"I suppose you could do it, but then you'll spend three years in court fighting it and you'll just lose, so that doesn't move us forward to getting people paid," Nally said.

He said the province will continue to pressure operators "to make these people whole" and encourage people who are owed money to pursue legal action.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Matt Marshall and Chelan Skulski 

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

Katy Perry sings goodbye to 'American Idol'

Katy Perry said her goodbyes on 'American Idol' after seven seasons. On Sunday night’s live 'idol' season finale, a medley of Perry's hit songs were performed, including 'Teenage Dream,' 'Dark Horse' and 'California Gurls.'

Stay Connected