Residents at some retirement homes are upset because they could soon be on the hook for additional costs caused by new provincial legislation aimed at making the homes safer.

The Ontario government passed an act in 2010 to start the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) to keep homes maintained at a certain standard.

A retirement home is not a long-term care home or nursing home. Ontario defines a retirement home as:

  • a residential complex or part of a residential complex.
  • occupied primarily by persons 65 years of age or older.
  • occupied, or intended to be occupied, by at least six people not related to the operator.
  • where at least two care services are made available to the residents by the operator.

Retirement homes in Ontario must also now have a licence to operate, which could amount to an extra fee of $10 per month for each resident of a retirement home starting in November.

Some homes say they are covering those costs, but others are forcing residents to swallow the extra fee.

"I mean, the other option is to cut services and I really think residents come to a retirement home to gain those services," said Sharon Henderson, a spokeswoman for Chartwell Seniors Housing.

"To have those activities, to have the socialization, the nutritious meals, the housekeeping services, all of those things help make lives better."

Company passing cost to residents

Chartwell, which runs 80 retirement properties, now expects its total costs to increase to about $1 million per year. The company said it would pass the cost down to residents.

Residents at one of its homes in Ottawa were mixed on the idea.

But the government believes the cost, which was kicked off with $7.5 million of Ontario taxpayers' dollars and is now a self-funding model, is worth it to help prevent abuse and neglect to residents.

mi-ott-chartwell-300

Chartwell vice-president of communications, Sharen Henderson, said her company either will pass on the cost to residents or cut services. (CBC)

"It's going to bring protection to them (homes) in the long run. There have been homes that have been burnt down. There have been inquests into abuse situations. There have been people that have been living in conditions that are not good," said Mary Beth Valentine, CEO of the RHRA.

Inspectors with the province have been inspecting for abuse and neglect since May 2011, even though the official first day featuring the new rules was in April 2012.

About 40,000 Ontario seniors live in about 700 retirement homes across the province.