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Ontario government proposes changes to long-term care funding

New funding model designed to expedite new builds/redevelopments, upgrades including air conditioning

TORONTO – With the COVID-19 pandemic exposing some glaring holes in the long-term care system, including the need for new beds and comforts such as air conditioning in some homes, the province has announced plans for a redesigned long-term care funding model.

On July 15, the government announced they plan to invest $1.75 billion in long-term care homes over the next five years.

Also announced were plans for updated design standards to include air conditioning for any new and renovated homes beginning immediately.

There are currently more than 38,000 people on the waitlist to access a long-term care space in Ontario. Nearly 78,000 people live in the 626 long-term care homes across the province.

According to data released by the province on July 15, 611 beds have been added to the long-term care system between 2011-2018.

Premier Doug Ford said the new funding model will “turbo charge” the development of long-term care beds across Ontario.

“Our new funding model will not only encourage new beds to be built faster, but also upgrade existing older homes to meet high-quality design standards, with features like air conditioning and private or semi-private rooms. Our seniors deserve nothing less,” said Ford.

In a release, the Ontario government says the current “one size fits all” funding model has not kept pace with the demand for beds, nor does it take into account land, construction and development costs, which vary across the province based on location.

The proposed new funding model aims to speed up construction by:

  • creating four new regional categories based on geographic location, each with a targeted home size: large urban, urban, mid-size, and rural. An increase to the province’s construction funding subsidy (CFS) will be tailored to each of these four categories, enabling the government to address the barriers and needs of different communities;
  • providing development grants, between 10 per cent and 17 per cent depending on the regional category, to cover upfront costs like development charges, land and other construction expenses;
  • helping small operators in rural communities navigate the high cost of development, while ensuring larger urban centres can secure the loans and real estate they need; and
  • increasing funding to incentivize the construction of basic accommodation and continuing top-ups for small and medium-sized homes.

The province also says that long-term care projects dating back to 2018 will be eligible for the newly announced funding.

“This newly designed model is a signature element of our government’s plan to address capacity in long-term care,” said Merilee Fullerton, minister of long-term care.

“This bold new plan will allow us to modernize a system that had been neglected for years, reduce the waiting list and ensure seniors live in a setting that is modern, clean and comfortable. In addition, this new investment will create jobs and contribute to our economic recovery.”