Time Running Out on Looming Seniors’ Housing Crisis: AdvantAge Ontario

Association for providers of non-profit seniors’ care issues pre-budget recommendations

Toronto, Ontario (February 25, 2024) - Too many seniors are entering long-term care homes prematurely, according to AdvantAge Ontario, which is calling on government to create more housing specifically targeted at the province’s aging population.

“Long-term care beds should be treated as a scarce resource, and reserved only for those who truly belong there,” said Lisa Levin, Chief Executive Officer of AdvantAge Ontario, the association representing the province’s not-for-profit LTC homes and seniors’ housing providers. “Right now, there’s a massive housing void for older adults who need more care than they can get at home but who are not ready for long-term care.”

Government must address this housing ‘missing middle’ by providing more supportive housing for older adults, according to AdvantAge Ontario.

Supportive housing is similar to retirement housing in that residents are offered a range of services such as meals, activities, security checks and help with personal care. However, rents are more affordable than retirement homes.

Elders who don’t have access to supportive housing often ultimately end up in hospitals, then become crisis admissions to long-term care homes. Approximately one in five admissions to long-term care could have been avoided, according to a study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

“By creating more supportive housing for older adults, government would instantly address burning issues for both seniors and younger Ontarians,” said Levin. “Every move into supportive housing by a senior could free up an existing home for younger families. It’s a double win.”

AdvantAge Ontario is calling on the provincial government to spend $349 million for the creation of 1,000 new supportive housing units.

The recommendation is contained in a pre-budget submission released Sunday. The submission also calls on government to:

•    Address inflation, which is impacting long-term care homes’ ability to provide quality care, by providing a one-time funding increase of 10 per cent.
•    Make it easier for not-for-profit long-term care homes to access capital by providing zero per cent financing for LTC expansion or renovation projects.
•    Solve persistent problems in the healthcare workforce, including the prevalence of temporary staffing agencies, by increasing wages for workers in long-term care, home care and community support services.  

AdvantAge Ontario’s recommendations to government come amid a demographic crunch. A February report released by Home Care Ontario projects that the province’s seniors population will grow by 650,000 in just five years – a 23 per cent increase.

While AdvantAge Ontario praised government for recent investments in long-term care, including funding for increased staffing hours and Bill 124 wage reopeners, Levin added: “Government must do more to address these extraordinary pressures.”

“The stakes are high, the need is great,” said Levin. “And time is running out.”

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AdvantAge Ontario is the voice of not-for-profit seniors’ care in the province, representing more than 500 long-term care, seniors’ housing, supportive housing and community service agencies.

To arrange an interview with Lisa Levin, please contact Chris Noone, Manager of Communications and Member Services.