Four years after fire ripped through a seniors' residence and killed 32 people and 15 more, the province is taking new steps to ensure and speed up fire safety.

Legislation passed since the deadly fire requires all seniors' residences to install sprinkler systems by 2020.

The coroner's report into the Isle Verte tragedy blamed inadequate fire prevention and a lack of staff for the deaths at the fire at the Residence Le Havre on Jan. 23, 2014.

The home, like many others in the province, wasn’t equipped with sprinklers.

So far, about half of the residences have been equipped in accordance with the law, but Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said Thursday that the government wants to speed up the process.

To that end the provincial government is making it easier to apply for a subsidy program, and beefing up the amount of government cash available.

The government initially dedicated $115 million to subsidies but is now increasing that amount by $68 million.

Under the new model, the government will cover:

  • 100 per cent of the costs associated with installing sprinklers in seniors' homes in residences with 30 units and fewer
  • 80 per cent for homes with 31-99 units
  • 60 per cent of the cost of residences with 100 units and more
  • 100 per cent of the cost of retrofitting a non-profit residences, no matter how many units they contain.

Barrette said consultations with owners of seniors' homes led the Liberal government to realize the number of homes that had successfully applied for and received grants was quite low.

"They told us there was a problem, there is not enough money, and there is an administrative formula that is problematic, too complicated. So we proceeded to make adjustments, adjustments that we are announcing today," said Barrette.

The minister said the new application process should be easier, and the extra funding should make it possible for homes to meet the 2020 deadline set by the government.

Yves Desjardins, CEO of the Quebec Seniors' Residences Association, said the extra funding, especially for smaller residences, will be a great help.

"We take care of seniors and we want to protect them as much as we can," said Desjardins.

"I think now we have all we need, especially with a letter to get a loan for the owners. So with the money, and the process will be easier, we have all what we need to proceed with the installations."

The new model will be retroactive for those homes that have already installed the sprinklers, much to the delight of the association that represents owners of private seniors' residences.

About 130,000 people in Quebec live in 1,800 seniors' homes, one-third of which have more than 50 units.