In a column that you can read elsewhere on this site I referred to funding received by the beneficiary agencies of the Jewish Federation. Apparently some of the information I gave about the Simkin Centre, Winnipeg's Jewish Personal Care Home, was not quite correct, while other points I made about the centre require further clarification.




Simkin Centre CEO Laurie Cerqueti (left)/Simkin Board Chair Selma Gilfix

I was asked to meet with Simkin Centre CEO Laurie Cerqueti (who has been in that position since January of this year) and Simkin Centre Board Chair Selma Gilfix. During that meeting both Cerqueti and Gilfix said they wish to clarify certain points and correct mistakes that I had apparently made.
With reference to the Simkin Centre budget, I wrote that it was $13.5 million. I based that figure on the Simkin Centre’s own website. However, I am now informed by Laurie Cerqueti, CEO of the Simkin Centre, that the centre’s budget is actually closer to $15 million (and that the website needs to be updated).
Cerqueti, though, pointed out that even though the Simkin Centre’s budget has increased since that figure was posted, it has been running deficits for each of the past three years. The primary factor, she explained, has been a cut in the budgets for all Personal Care Homes in the province since 2016, as well as rising costs for such necessities as food, supplies, water, gas, hydro, and property taxes.
At the same time, however, Cerqueti did point out that the Province of Manitoba currently provides 66% of the operating budget for the Simkin Centre. Thirty-one per cent of the funding comes from the residents themselves, while the remaining three per cent comes from grants and donations.
Cerqueti explained that all Simkin Centre residents are required to pay at least a minimal rate for their care. Daily rates currently range from $38.75/day, she said, to a maximum of $90.65. She added that these rates are set by the province and are subject to change on an annual basis.
Several individuals who had read my column also asked me to clarify my statement that four beneficiary agencies alone of the Jewish Federation have combined spending of $31 million. By no means did I intend to suggest that $31 million is supplied by the Jewish Federation. In fact, while the Jewish Federation does allot quite a bit of money to its 12 beneficiary agencies, the allotment to the Simkin Centre for the 2019/20 year is only $12,309 – something I made note of in our August 22 issue. (The Simkin Centre had asked for an allotment of $60,000.)

I did ask Cerqueti and Gilfix about the endowment managed by the Jewish Foundation for the Simkin Centre. I also asked about the money that the Simkin Centre had received for the sale of a parcel of land adjoining the Simkin Centre, which is in the process of being developed by a corporation known as Brightwater.
Both Gilfix and Cerqueti were clear in saying that interest from the endowment is being used to provide services to Simkin Centre residents that are not covered by the province, including: security, spiritual care, recreation, and the Garden Café.
The final point – and perhaps the most important point about which I was wrong, was my statement that the Simkin Centre is required to admit a certain proportion of non-Jewish residents. I wrote that the Simkin Centre is required to keep 20% of its beds available to non-Jewish residents. (That assertion was based on information I had been previously given, apparently in error.)
On that point both Cerqueti and Gilfix stated emphatically that I was quite wrong and that there is absolutely no requirement to maintain a certain number of beds for non-Jewish residents. In fact, I was told, if both a Jewish individual and a non-Jewish individual are waiting for a bed at the Simkin Centre, priority will always be given to the Jewish individual.
I asked, however, how many of the current residents at the Simkin Centre are, in fact, not Jewish. The answer, I was told, is “36%”. That goes to support my observation that the proportion of non-Jewish residents in the Simkin Centre has been rising, which is a reflection of more Jewish seniors living in other types of seniors’ residences than it is anything else.
One final point of discussion that I had with Cerqueti and Gilfix was over the question of average wait times for someone seeking to gain admission to the Simkin Centre. Currently, I was told, the wait time for a Jewish applicant to gain admission to the Simkin Centre can be as little as 24 hours to a couple of months, with the current average wait one-three weeks. For a non-Jewish applicant, the wait time is typically much longer: from 10-14 months.