Westwinds Communities CAO Lauren Ingalls is among the 11 panel members tasked with reviewing the Seniors Lodge Program.

The Seniors Lodge Program is Alberta's oldest affordable housing program for seniors, having been established in 1958.

According to the provincial government, it provides housing and services to 10,850 lodge units in 149 lodges across the province.

The program has come under scrutiny in the last few years, including from the Foothills-based non-profit Westwinds Communities, who called for the program to be reviewed in September of 2023.

In their public appeal addressed to the provincial government, Westwinds pointed to a few factors including a lack of capital funding, inflation, and the lack of a review for the program since 2015.

The latter was addressed by Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services, at a Jan. 18 news conference announcing the creation of a review panel.

"The work of the panel will commence this year. It is long overdue. The last time the lodge program was reviewed was 2015, and there is a tremendous amount of things that have changed between 2015 and now."

Part of that work, says Nixon, will be to ensure a smooth transition for seniors moving from lodging into continuing care.

The 11 panel members appointed by Nixon are:

  • Brandon Lunty, MLA for Leduc-Beaumont, co-chair
  • Arlene Adamson, president, Alberta Seniors and Community Housing Association (ASCHA), co-chair
  • Stacey Stilling, chief administrative officer, Mountain View Seniors Housing
  • Lauren Ingalls, chief administrative officer, Westwinds Communities
  • Marlys Jordan, chief administrative officer, Calgary Heritage Housing
  • Paul McLauchlin, president, Rural Municipalities Alberta
  • Tyler Gandam, president, Alberta Municipalities
  • Robin James, vice-president south region, ASCHA
  • Shane Gauthier, chief executive officer, Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary
  • Jennifer McCue, chief administrative officer, Bethany Care Society
  • Miriam Elhaghuagi, manager of Healthy Aging Alberta, United Way of Calgary and Area

Nixon says part of the process will be to speak with those who rely on the system and work directly with it.

"The panel will hear from Albertans and consult with a variety of stakeholders and take their feedback of what the needs of the lodge program are, and I'm very excited to hear what that feedback is, and ultimately, to be able to work with the government to take action to secure our lodge program in the future."

The program saw $40.6 million in funding in the 2023 budget.