Long-term care centres in Toronto are facing financial hardships because of a provincial program looking to redevelop seniors’ homes across Ontario, and a report says it has some facilities contemplating permanently closing their doors and leaving the city.
According to a report from Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, eight long-term care facilities in Toronto are considering leaving, which represents 1,270 beds in the city. Another six are at risk of leaving because of Enhanced Long-Term Care Home Renewal Strategy put in place by the provincial government.
Six said they are committed to staying.
“In Toronto Central LHIN, 20 of 36 long-term care facilities have been identified as needing to be rebuilt,” said Megan Primeau, communications manager with Toronto Central LHIN in an email.
“Some of these long-term care home operators have indicated that they are facing challenges including the zoning, cost and availability of land in the city.”
Suomi-Koti Seniors Centre is part of Toronto Central LHIN and it has been open to seniors who are part of the Toronto Finnish community for more than 25 years, but Juhu Mynttinen, the centre’s executive director said provincial regulations are putting its future in question.
The Enhanced Long-Term Care Home Renewal Strategy would require the facilities to make significant upgrades, which include removing four bed wards, and Mynttinen said for Suomi-Koti Seniors Centre it would come with a significant price tag.
“We would have to add 12,000 sq. ft. and we’re basically landlocked here, “ he said.
“It would cost us between $20 to $30 million to live up to the new regulations…it’s very difficult. We’re a very small community and to raise that kind of money for a small community, it’s almost impossible.”
Mynttinen added if no alternative is found, the centre might be forced to shut down.
“If we don’t find that money we’re not going to have any other choice than to be out of the nursing home business,” he said.
Candace Chartier, CEO of Ontario Long Term Care Association said the subsidy offered by the province is not specific to the area and Toronto nursing homes require more subsidies for rebuilding costs.
“The cost of land is astronomical in Toronto. It’s just like the housing industry,” she said.
“You can’t buy a house in Toronto that looks like a house you could buy for the same amount in rural Ontario.”
Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Health said while he understands the challenges that are facing Toronto long-term care facilities, there is an opportunity to succeed with the program.
“I appreciate the challenges that Toronto faces that are unique to the city,” he said.
“I’m confident in a strong partnership between the government and the proponents, the sector itself and the for profits and not for profits that will succeed, including in places like Toronto.”
The report also got attention from Toronto Mayor John Tory who said he plans on contacting his provincial partners.
“I would just hope that the province would take a second look at this,” Tory said.
Mynttinen said he hopes alternative options do present themselves in the coming months.
“I would love to find some way that we could come to an agreement that we could make sense that we could have these additional space,” he said.
“This place has operated for 25 years serving hundreds of people over those 25 years and even without doing anything it would operate for another 25 years but if we have to do these new regulations in a short time it’s just going to be impossible.”