03/12/2015 12:26 EDT | Updated 05/12/2015 05:59 EDT

Province on track to create 2,600 care beds: seniors minister

CALGARY - Alberta's seniors minister says the province is on track to exceed its target for new care beds for seniors.

Jeff Johnson says grant money is to be used to create more than 2,600 new spaces, including 400 long-term care units and 311 restorative care beds announced earlier this week.

He says that will exceed 1,500 new beds promised last fall.

About $180 million is to be directed toward 31 projects in 18 communities.

Supportive living provides seniors care in a home-like setting to give residents as much independence as possible.

The province has been trying to get more care beds so as to move seniors out of acute care beds in hospitals.

"We've had a hospital system where seniors have nowhere else to go if they're not well," Premier Jim Prentice said when asked about the announcement in Grande Prairie.

"They may not need acute care, but they're in an acute-care bed because, frankly, we stopped building the acute-care beds that we needed.

"This is part of getting caught up."

— With files from CJXX