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An elderly couple in the Canadian province of New Brunswick have been forced into separate care homes despite requests from their daughter for a short extention until after Christmas, the daughter has said. "This is one Sad Christmas story for Herbert and Audrey Goodine who reside at Victoria Villa Special Care Home in Perth Andover," Dianne Goodine Phillips wrote.

In a post on Facebook, Phillips said that her parents – 91-year-old Herbert and 89-year-old Audrey – had been together for "a total of 73 years and still sleep in the same bed". She said that on Friday 15 December she was suddenly told that her father needed to be moved to a difference care facility.

"My request during the day Friday was to simply extend my father's residency until the end of this week," Phillips wrote in the post on Sunday 17 December. "However, my repeated request was ignored." Phillips described the system that led to her parents' separation as "unethical and cruel".

She said that over the phone her mother had said: "Christmas is over for us now and this is the worst Christmas that we will ever have. Why could they not have waited till after the holidays."

In a post on Monday, Phillips photographed her parents' sad goodbyes. Later on Monday she wrote that "the plan was carried through" and her father was transferred. Phillips said that though she understood her father had to be moved for extra care, the deadline was "unrealistic" and no resources were offered to them to keep her parents together for Christmas.

"My father may have needs, however, like any other citizen he has the right to enjoy his life and spending this season with his wife was part of that," Phillips wrote.

In a statement to CTV, who first reported the story, the Department of Social Development said that they "understand that this difficult situation has affected this couple and their family" and that people requiring special care are "moved to where their needs can be more appropriately met".

The care home that had housed the couple said in a post on Facebook that they were a Level 2 facility. "Once a resident is beyond our level and social development has reassessed to determine their level, I have to follow the rules and regulations set by the government," the post read. "In fact, it's against the law for me to not follow the rules and I could lose my license."

Phillips' original Facebook post garnered extensive social media attention, with over 15,000 people sharing it.