05/04/2015 02:03 EDT | Updated 05/04/2016 05:12 EDT

New Brunswick Nursing Home Bills To Go Up For Rich Seniors

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's social development minister is bringing in a new formula under which wealthier seniors will pay more for nursing home care.

Cathy Rogers said Monday the province is changing its policy because of its financial situation as it deals with a projected deficit of $476.8 million for this fiscal year.

"Only those who can afford to pay more are being asked to do so," Rogers said in a news release.

The government already uses income to calculate fees, but under the new policy it will also factor in some liquid assets, such as cash, deposits in financial institutions, stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

The government says no senior will pay more than $175 per day for care under the new policy, regardless of how much they have in liquid assets. It says only 13 per cent of nursing home residents pay the current maximum of $113.

"This is still significantly less than the daily average cost to government," Rogers said. "We are still subsidizing the cost of care for all seniors. To ensure that the system is sustainable over the long-term we are simply asking those who can contribute more to do so."

The government says tangible assets, such as real estate, will not be included in the calculation.

The Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents Rights has been critical of the province for announcing in its budget that it would include the savings and investments of seniors in the assessment that's done for nursing home care.

The government says under its new policy, couples with a household income of under $60,000 will see their monthly costs decrease. For instance, it says couples with a household income of $30,000 will get a $117 a month decrease in their fees.

A government spokesman said the changes will take effect in the 2015-16 fiscal year.