Ontario Seniors Housing: Too Few and Too Expensive

Ontario Seniors Housing:  Too Few and Too Expensive

Presented by John Anderson CAUS at the discussion in Ottawa, Ontario

on the 2016 Budget of the Ontario Government

Delta Ottawa City Centre, Ottawa, Ontario


January 15, 2016

Canada and Ontario’s population is aging rapidly. Estimates from Statcan show that by July 1 2015, for the first time, there were more persons aged 65 years and older in Canada than children aged 0 to 14 years. Nearly one in six Canadians (16.1%)—a record 5,780,900 Canadians—was at least 65 years old, compared with 5,749,400 children aged 0 to 14 years (16.0%).

According to the most recent population projections, the share of persons aged 65 years and older will continue to increase.  It should account for 20.1% of the population on July 1, 2024.The absolute numbers of seniors will double from 5.8 million in 2015 to some 10.1 million in 2035.  By 2051 roughly one in four Canadians is expected to be 65 or over.

Seniors need two kinds of help around housing. Most seniors will need some kind of help to stay in their own housing. This presentation will not concentrate on this very important issue which CAUS has presented on before and is available on our website https://nationalseniorsproject.org/. Rather with the limited time available I will concentrate on the issue of specialized housing for seniors.

In Canada, there are, according to the annual study (2015) by CMHC (https://www03.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/catalog/productDetail.cfm?cat=160&itm=31&lang=en&sid=IDM5SENLinTR1QWmKQVCGOL1Vgdm0vMH4mtDE0wVeGofcoNHVhtKZ65xhZukiGLg&fr=1454704723199) , only a total of 224,342 spaces for seniors in Canada. Just less than half of these spaces are in Quebec (111,973). This represents in Quebec a rate of 18.5% of seniors over 75 in seniors’ homes. In Ontario, which has one of the poorest rates of only 5.2%, there are only a total of 53,680 spaces! This is less than half of Quebec’s total and less third of the rate of Quebec. The overall Canadian rate for over 75s is 8.9% which is still very low but much higher than that for Ontario.

But it is not just the number of spaces but the cost of this housing that is bad for Ontario seniors. The average rent for bachelor units or private rooms, where at least one meal is included, is now $2,107 per month in Canada. In Ontario, however, the average rent is $2815 per month, one of the highest rates. Compare this to Quebec where the rate is only $1521 per month.

Even more unacceptable are the rents per month for seniors in Ottawa ($3134) and  Toronto ($3198). What this means is that even if they need seniors housing, only very well off seniors will be able to get housing in these cities.

Ontario is thus way behind Quebec, and also behind the Canadian average, and needs a major investment in seniors’ housing. Just to catch up with Quebec would require building some 127,673 new units to have the same rate as they do in Quebec and then with the seniors population increasing from 16% now to 25% by 2051, would demand another major increase of more than 50% of this figure.

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