Home, Community and Residential Care Services

Retirement Homes

Retirement homes are privately owned rental accommodations for seniors who are able to manage and pay for their own care. Generally, retirement homes are designed for seniors who need minimal to moderate support with their daily living activities but may provide higher levels of care as long as government standards are met. These settings enable residents to live as independently as possible, while providing certain services and social activities. Retirement homes are also called "retirement residences".

Anyone can apply to a retirement home. You do not need to provide medical evidence that you need a minimum level of care. The retirement home, however, may assess your needs to ensure that it can provide you with appropriate support, or that you do not need more support than it can provide.

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Accommodations range from shared rooms to bachelor, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. The amenities offered by retirement homes vary considerably. Most retirement homes have dining rooms and common areas or lounges. Some homes may have a gift shop, beauty salon, or chapel. A library, garden, swimming pool, or rooms for social events may often be available. Some retirement homes are located on the grounds of a long-term care home or other type of seniors housing.


Most retirement homes offer meals, housekeeping, laundry, and recreational and social programs. The types and levels of homemaking help, personal care, and health services offered by retirement homes vary significantly, as do their costs.

Retirement homes can be an appropriate option for people who do not require 24-hour nursing care


Since retirement homes are not subsidized by the government, you would be responsible for the entire cost of both your accommodation and care. Typically, retirement homes offer packages that include accommodation and services. Fees can range from approximately $1500 to $5000 per month for a private room. You may arrange to purchase additional services or higher levels of service.

Retirement homes offer considerable flexibility. For example, you can often choose to opt in or out of meal plans and/or other services. You may also leave for extended periods of time -- such as for a vacation -- and retain your residence, as long as you continue to pay your rent and any associated service fees. However, if you are hospitalized indefinitely or you decide to move, you must give written notice prior to leaving your accommodation in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act.

Government Legislation and Monitoring

For the first time in Ontario’s history, the care provided to retirement home residents has been  regulated under provincial legislation – the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 (RHA). The RHA:

  • creates the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) with the power to license homes and conduct inspections, investigations and enforcement, including issuing financial penalties or revoking licenses if necessary;
  • establishes mandatory care and safety standards, and requires emergency plans, infection control and prevention programs, assessment of care needs and care planning, police background checks and training for staff; and 
  • establishes residents’ rights, including the right to know the true cost of care and accommodation and the right to live in an environment that promotes zero tolerance of abuse or neglect.

Until the RHA is fully in force, Ontario is ensuring seniors living in retirement homes are further protected against abuse and neglect. Immediate Protection Measures were brought into force on May 16, 2011. These “Immediate Protection Measures” give the RHRA some authority to take action in cases of abuse and neglect.

The key protections include:

  • Requiring suspected harm or risk of harm to a resident to be reported to the Registrar of the RHRA.
  • Requiring the Registrar to respond to reports of abuse and neglect, including ordering an immediate inspection.
  • Extending access to the RHRA’s Information Helpline (formerly known as the Complaints Response and Information Service (CRIS)) to 8 am – 8 pm, seven days a week for retirement home residents, their families, caregivers and the public.
  • Requiring all retirement home operators to post a sign with the Helpline number in a highly visible and easily accessible location.

In addition, under the RHA, a person (including retirement home operators, managers, staff, professional health, social work and social service providers) who suspects or is aware of any harm or risk of harm to a retirement home resident must immediately report the suspicion and the information on which it is based to the Registrar of the RHRA. To make a report, call:

To learn more about filing a Report under Section 75 of the RHA visit the RHRA link provided below.

Your tenancy also continues to be governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2007. If you move into a retirement home, the owner of the retirement home becomes your landlord. The accommodation and food preparation in retirement homes continue to be regulated by the Health Protection and Promotion Act, and the associated guidelines for safe meal preparation, sanitation and water quality. All kitchen facilities are inspected by local Public Health departments.

Contract / Service Agreements

If you move into a retirement home, the retirement home owner becomes your landlord. The retirement home must provide you with lease or a Written Tenancy Agreement that outlines rent you will pay and terms of tenancy. In addition, as a requirement of the Residential Tenancies Act, the home must also provide a Care Home Information Package (CHIP). These documents describe your accommodation, and service package, fees for services, the home's staffing levels and qualifications, the emergency response system, and the complaint procedure. The CHIP should be signed before you move in. Once the RHA is fully proclaimed, there will be an obligation on the retirement home owner to provide additional information to the resident of the retirement home and to family members if requested. For the complete list of the contents of the information package prescribed by the RHA, please review section 54 of the RHA (see link below).

How to Apply

Once the RHA is fully proclaimed, the RHRA will maintain a register of licensed retirement homes in the province that the public and prospective residents can access to find information. Until then, you can apply directly to the retirement home provider of your choosing. The Community Care Access Centre can get you started by providing you with a list of retirement homes in your area. For other ways of finding retirement homes, visit the Finding a Provider section and the Links and Resources section.

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For More Information

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