Assisted living communities in Canada are generally an intermediate level of care, between independent living and nursing homes or long-term care homes. Assisted living facilities serve seniors who can no longer live independently at home but need basic assistance with the activities of daily living. These facilities do not offer extensive medical and nursing services provided in a nursing home.
Assisted living facilities are residential communities, and they focus on maximizing a resident’s independence. Typically, there is more privacy in assisted living when compared to nursing homes or long-term care. Many of the assisted living options feature individual apartments that include kitchens, private bathrooms, and emergency call systems. Assisted living facilities also provide 24-hour supervision and offer housekeeping, transportation, laundry, meal service, medication assistance, and as-needed assistance with activities of daily life.
Additionally, assisted living facilities are also designed to safely accommodate people with mobility problems and vision impairments—for example, wide hallways and floor plans that are easy to navigate with walkers and wheelchairs. There is less governmental regulation than nursing homes and long-term care, but it is still a heavily regulated care sector.
The cost of assisted living in Canada is generally subsidized or private pay, and the costs varying depending on province and location. However, assisted living costs are dependent on a number of factors like the level of luxury, location, services required, size of the apartment, and type of residence. Generally, it is a flat rate that covers many basic services with additional fees for special services.
Senior Housing Programs for Canadian Provinces and Territories
The cost of assisted living and even home care varies from province to province. Each province offers similar and different options and programs regarding senior housing and assisted living.
Alberta—Alberta Health Services, Continuing Care provides seniors the support they need to maintain active and fulfilling lives. Alberta Seniors’ continuing care options include home care, supportive living, long-term care, hospice, and end-of-life care. There are programs and services to help seniors receive the right care in the right place at the right time.
British Columbia—There are different housing options for seniors living in the province, whether they live in supported or assisted living environments. Some of the programs include home improvement assistance programs, rental and affordable housing, and supportive housing.
Manitoba—Health, Seniors, and Active Living in Manitoba provide support to seniors in group living and supportive housing and personal care homes. In addition to the government-supported programs, private facilities offer various services and living arrangements for seniors.
New Brunswick—The Social Development program in the province provided funded residential services and long-term care for seniors. Facilities include long-term care for persons 65 and over, special care homes, day activity services for seniors, and home support services.
Newfoundland and Labrador—Through Children, Seniors and Social Development, the province provide provincial home repair programs, rental housing programs for low-income households, and nursing homes and personal care homes through the Department of Health and Community Services.
Nova Scotia—Housing programs for seniors in the province provide home adaptation for seniors’ independence, the senior citizen assistance program, and public housing for seniors. Moreover, subsidized assisted living or long-term care is available for seniors and private pay options.
Northwest Territories—Home and Continuing Care in the territory help residents care for themselves with help from family and community members. The programs help older residents keep their sense of independence and well-being.
Prince Edward Island—Long-term care and home care programs are offered to seniors in Prince Edward Island. Long-term care in the province provides specialized nursing and personal care services to individuals who can no longer live on their own, with family, or with home care supports.
Saskatchewan—Senior services are available for people who can no longer live independently or need assistance to do so. Assisted living is one senior housing option of many that are provided through the provincial government.
The Cost of Long-Term Care and or Assisted Living in Canada
According to a report, The Cost of Long-Term Care, Canadas Retirement Savings Blind Spot, approximately one in three Canadians feels unprepared for their senior years. Older Canadians must account for healthcare costs that are not covered by government programs. Assisted living or long-term care in Canada only covers so much while placing the remaining expenses on seniors and their families, which is not always easy for every family. According to the report, long-term care costs and other health-related expenses are a major blind spot for those saving for retirement.
Long-term costs are the cost of nursing homes, assisted living in seniors residences, and home care. Within the country, health-related spending as a percentage of income has been on the rise since the 1990s, and the out of pocket healthcare costs rise with age. According to recent studies, the typical annual costs for long-term can range from between $25,000 to $200,000. For example, private 24/7 care by professionals can cost upwards of $200,000 per year, assisted living in a private facility can cost $40K to $100K per year, government-run nursing home cost between $25K to 40K per year, and family member needing caregiving costs around $35K per year.
Whether planning for retirement or assisted living care in Canada, being financially ready is a big part, and unfortunately, not every Canadian is ready. Approximately 12.5% of Canadian seniors live in poverty, and the median value of retirement assets for Canadians ages 55 to 64 is $3,000. Moreover, one-third of Canadian adults are not prepared for retirement, and many Canadians are no longer able to save for retirement or extra care when needed.
Even when some Canadians move to assisted living, they do not always get what they pay for. According to an article written in 2018, there is next to no availability in assisted living facilities in Canada, meaning no consumer choice. Unfortunately, many communities have only one facility, and as the population ages, the need for assisted living is essential. Assisted living housing with home care supports is expensive and, on average, between $3,000 to $4,000 per month.
Moreover, some services are not protected, and home care services do not have consumer protection. Generally, legislation on assisted living in Canada lacks protection in matters covered by the contract that is not in the tenancy or the health and safety buckets. Lack of consumer protection can also lead to costs that quickly rise.