We've been preparing for the unexpected: Chartwell CEO
Chartwell Retirement Residences has withdrawn its forecasts and says it will look at ways to bolster its balance sheet as the company deals with the impact of COVID-19, which has thrust it into the spotlight as the pandemic spreads in Canada's seniors living facilities.
"We will continue to evaluate further opportunities to increase liquidity, including the delay of non-essential capital expenditures and certain development and redevelopment projects," the company said in its release Thursday, while noting it had $384 million in liquidity as of Wednesday.
There's been growing alarm across Canada about COVID-19 inside retirement homes, including a recent outbreak that claimed five lives at a Chartwell facility in the Greater Toronto Area's North York region.
On Monday, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said the spread of the virus in nursing and retirement homes has been at the root of half of the more than 700 deaths across the country.
“Even as the numbers of cases slows down the number of deaths, unfortunately, are expected to increase,” Tam said at a media briefing in Ottawa.
Chartwell said that as of Thursday, there were COVID-19 cases in 18 of its 196 residences.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our residents and their families, particularly those directly affected by the disease. We understand this and will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the impact of this pandemic on them," the company said.
Chartwell warned Thursday that its occupancy will take a hit as a result of containment efforts that are restricting access to its residences. It noted occupancy fell 1.5 percentage points year-over-year in the three months ended March 31.
With files from The Canadian Press