PRIORITY TWOGIVE SENIORS OUTSIDE OF URBAN CENTRES EQUAL ACCESS TO SERVICES
The Low Availability Of New Licenses
One specific contributor to the challenge of accessing services where you live is the low availability of new licenses to allow projects to rebuild to meet today’s needs. The standards put forward in the 1970s allowed for operators to have fluctuating numbers of bed licenses in their resident home areas (RHA). The province’s new guidelines, however, call for a maximum number of bed licenses (specifically, 32) to be located in an RHA.
The challenge is that there are many homes today that do not have the necessary number of bed licenses to move forward with renewal projects. To be clear, these are renewal projects that would enable improved efficiencies and better quality care, ensuring greater consistency of service without compromising the home-like care environment – all of which is consistent with the current guidelines.
The bed licensing issue is a challenge found throughout the province, but its impact is most acute in small and rural communities where there are limited options. In such instances, licenses could be added, as per the Provincial Capacity Plan, to help improve access closer to home for seniors like Tom.
The Significant Impact Of Municipal Charges On Projects
Municipal and regional development charges are among some of the more impactful costs associated with capital renewal, and they are largely variable. Their impact restricts the ability of small and large operators alike to build the infrastructure to meet the demand of our seniors.
Development charges were put in place as a means of collecting revenue that would help pay for the cost of adding new houses to an infrastructure. Houses that would need municipal services like roads, water supply and sewers. Development charges ensure a community’s infrastructure can evolve to meet the needs of a growing residential population. But long-term care homes represent existing infrastructure. The infrastructure needs of residents and staff have already been largely accounted for.
Further, the rate at which some municipalities have grown their development charges has been extraordinary. In some cases upwards of $35,000 is being charged per bed/suite of new construction. At that rate, renewing a 256-bed long- term care home would result in more than $10 million in municipal fees, once built.
What We Can Do About It
Given the negative impact that such charges can have on the viability of any long-term care home’s renewal program, and considering the inarguable benefit our homes bring to the communities in which they operate, the Association proposes that the province remove all development charges associated with the renewal of a long-term care home.
The Association also proposes that the Ministry create a pool of top-up bed licenses to be used on a case-by-case basis for all projects across Ontario based on the needs of each community in alignment with the Provincial Capacity Plan, so that small homes can continue to play a role in the future of long-term care, while ensuring seniors like Tom have improved access to the right care, close to home.
Requirements to improve rural and remote communities’ access to long-term care homes:
- Create a pool of new long-term care bed licenses to act as a top-up for all renewal projects, ensuring homes are able to build to current design standards that call for multiples of 32-bed RHAs. Also, use new licenses to help improve and enhance capacity, as per the Provincial Capacity Plan, with emphasis where warranted, on strengthening the sustainability of small homes in rural and remote communities throughout the province.
- Eliminate municipal and regional development charges for all long-term care home renewal projects.
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