Chinese government controls 21 BC seniors’ homes

Chinese government controls 21 BC seniors’ homes

By Paul Willcocks, Editor, The Tyee

Great. The lives of seniors in B.C. care homes, where they are already over-drugged and under-supported, now depend in part on the Chinese government.

On Friday, Beijing seized control of Anbang Insurance Group, a financial giant with investments around the world. It cited corruption, fraud and a risk the whole $390-billion company could go broke.

Last year, Anbang spent an estimated $1 billion to buy Retirement Concepts, which operates 21 seniors homes in British Columbia. It’s the biggest private provider in the province, collecting $87 million from the provincial government in 2015/16.

Anbang has no experience in seniors care. Its finances were murky and ownership so tangled as to be incomprehensible. It offered no promises of additional investment in the company or increased employment. Concerns about its business practices were already widespread.

But to promote its pro-China agenda, the Trudeau government turned a blind eye to the risks – and shifted them to seniors. Ottawa quickly approved the takeover, and the provincial government offered no objections and transferred operating licences to the Chinese company.

The Chinese government takeover is no surprise. When the sale was debated in the House of Commons, Conservative Mark Strahl asked what would happen “when the Anbang house of cards finally collapses.”

“Are seniors about to find out that their landlord is actually the People’s Republic of China?” the Chilliwack-Hope MP asked. And that is exactly what seniors and their families have learned.

Why does it matter? The BC government went along with the deal because it said Anbang would still have to meet provincial standards.

But if one of the 21 residences needs significant improvements, where will the money come from? Lenders won’t be keen; the managers running Anbang for the Chinese government aren’t likely to let subsidiaries increase debt when they fear it’s already insolvent.

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