Seniors in Manitoba Housing complex struggle to get by without hot water

Residents at a seniors’ complex operated by Manitoba Housing in Beausejour have been without hot water for a week, forcing people with visual and mobility challenges to heat water on stoves, then haul it elsewhere to wash themselves.

“There are some people here that have no other choice but to bathe in their apartment,” said Pat Sayer, who lives in Armstrong Manor, a 21-unit assisted living and independent living complex in the southeastern Manitoba town.

“They don’t have family close by [where they could go], so it is a problem.”

Sayer says it’s dangerous for residents like her to try to carry the pots of water. She has glaucoma and macular degeneration, leaving her with blurred vision in her one working eye.

“I shouldn’t have to be doing that,” she said.

Pat Sayer says she and the other seniors in her building ‘deserve to be dealt with with a little more respect’ than being left to manage without hot water for the past week. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Sayer contacted the building manager about her concerns and was surprised by the answer.

“I was told that it wasn’t an emergency because we had water,” she said.

“We have plenty of cold water, yes. But washing my hair the other day in the kitchen sink under cold water, it’s a brain freeze. I don’t need my brain frozen any more than it already is.”

Sayer says the building manager told her and other residents the fix might take another two weeks.

In an email to CBC News, a provincial spokesperson said Manitoba Housing is in the process of hiring a contractor, and expected to have one hired by the end of day Friday.

The hiring of the contractor has taken so long because the province invited contractors to bid on the work, thus allowing them the chance to review the scope of the work needed to be done and prepare quotes, the spokesperson later added.

Work will begin “as soon as possible.”

The spokesperson said the hot water tank stopped working May 28 but did not say why it took a week to find someone to fix it.

Although Armstrong Manor is a 55-plus building, Sayer said almost all the people living there are 70 or older.

“I think they feel we’re lower-class citizens here. We’re not children, we’re seniors and deserve to be dealt with with a little more respect,” she said.

Armstrong Manor is a 55-plus building, but most people living there are 70 or older, says Sayer. Many rely on canes, walkers and wheelchairs to get around, which makes trying to haul hot water extremely challenging, she says. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Garfield Parobec, who says he is one of the youngest people at the residence, usually stays active by playing pickleball, but says getting sweaty isn’t the best idea right now.

“I have to go to work and I can’t be stinky going to work, and I’ve got no other place to shower,” he said.

“So I spent three hours filling up my bathtub,” about a third of the way, said Parobec.

“I’m not too steady on my feet and I’m carrying this hot water, and I’m thinking, if somebody that’s 90 years old is doing that, you know, they could hurt themselves — get burned, fall down, break a hip.”

With an estimated surgical and diagnostic backlog of 166,000 cases in the province, no one wants to have to make a trip to hospitals, which are also short-staffed, he said.

Manitoba Housing is not providing backup hot water for residents who need access to it for personal hygiene, the spokesperson added. Tenants will have to heat their own water until access to hot water resumes.

Garfield Parobec is still active enough to play pickleball but said it’s difficult trying to wash up after a game. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

View original article here Source