Seniors in some care facilities will foot bill for Ontario provincial regulator

Seniors living in some retirement homes across the region have already been asked to pay exorbitant fees for basic services.

Now, retirement homes will be free to ask seniors to pay part of the costs of running an agency devoted to protecting them from abuse, fraud and maltreatment.

The government-sponsored, self-financing Ontario Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority is asking retirement homes to pay it $9 plus HST per month ($10.17) for every room they operate.

This fee will cover the costs of inspecting facilities and enforcing rules in the Retirement Homes Act of 2010.

There is nothing to stop retirement home operators from turning to residents to cover those additional costs, said Mary Beth Valentine, the registrar and chief executive of the Ontario Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority.

“We don’t have any authority to tell them they can or they cannot pass it on (to seniors).”

Emmanuel Village Retirement Home, onWeber Streetin Kitchener, will begin charging its residents to cover the cost of these fees in October.

Residents contacted there would not consent to their names being published, but one said she does not understand why vulnerable elderly people on fixed incomes should be asked to shoulder the cost of things like inspections and a residents’ bill of rights.

Valentine said retirement home operators may even be able to claim a tax deduction on the HST they collect from licence fees, even though some seniors may be ultimately footing the bill.

“Some homes in fact are absorbing it as a cost of doing business, some are passing it on and making it clear what they are passing on, doing it as a separate line, and some are looking at how it is going to impact the types of things they are going to do.”

Four other retirement homes in the region operated by Chartwell real estate income trust will charge the licence fee costs to their residents beginning in August.

“It’s about 30 cents a day for what is hoped to bring a standard of care and a level of services across the province,” Valentine said.

Other homes, like Waterloo’s LutherVillageon the Park, will not be asking residents to pay the licensing fees, for now.

“We’re looking at our financial model currently and trying to make some determinations about how we can come up with a sustainable financial model,” said executive director Jenn Hesson.

Having said that, Hesson said she would not be in favour of the government preventing operators from passing the costs to seniors. “I don’t necessarily see that it would have been advantageous to us for them to dictate to us how we handle that.”

Regulators say they will increase the monthly licensing fee slightly for 2013. The exact amount should be known by the end of September.

 Source: 2012 Torstar Corporation, Published by: Waterloo Region Record

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