Retirement Homes Licence fee called ‘tax on seniors’

SARNIA — Retirement home residents will take a hit in the wallet when a new licensing system takes effect, warns a Sarniabased retirement living manager.

The new Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) will require all Ontario retirement homes to apply for a licence to operate. About 40,000 Ontario seniors live in 700 retirement homes. Under the Retirement Homes Act, the authority will ensure facilities meet standards in cleanliness, food preparation, and emergency plans. All retirement home staff are also expected to be trained on preventing abuse and neglect, along with protection for whistle-blowers.

But retirement homes will have to pony up licensing fees. Homes with fewer than 20 suites will pay an $800 application fee to be licensed. All other homes will pay $1,200. Once approved, homes will pay an annual licensing fee to the RHRA.

“In effect it’s a tax on seniors,” said Clarke Boddy, retirement living division manager of Steeves & Rozema Group. “The reason why it’s a tax on seniors is because owners will pass that on, like any form of taxation passed on to the consumer.”

Steeves & Rozema Group operate the majority of retirement homesin Sarnia, including Landmark Village, Residence on the St. Clair, Rosewood Manor, the Marquis at Trillium Park and Twin Lakes Terrace.

Boddy said its retirement homes have been voluntarily accredited with the Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) for years. ORCA sets standards on quality of resident care, emergency planning, and food and meal services.

“It more than satisfied all general concerns and needs,” Boddy said. “A large part of the regulatory authority was really prompted by very small operators who don’t have the depth of resources and experience that we have.”

Labour Ministry spokesperson Greg Dennis said the majority of retirement homes treat residents with dignity, safety and respect. But the province is cracking down on the “bad apples” that need to clean up their act or leave the industry.

Dennis said the RHRA is still deciding the annual licensing fee.

“We’re looking at an average of no more than $10 a month,” he said. “Basically for the cost of a cup of a coffee a week, all these fees will be poured back into safety (of residents).”

Mary Beth Valentine, registrar and chief executive of RHRA, said licensing applications will be assessed by risk. Retirement homes demonstrating strong policies and procedures with a clean track record may not get an initial on-site inspection.

Valentine said RHRA will inspect all homes at least once every three years to ensure standards in the legislation are met, including elder abuse.


The London Free Press

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