At this time, publicly funded home care is funded by Ontario and delivered by the LHIN (Local Health Integration Networks). The process begins when you contact the LHIN. A Care Coordinator will pay your family a visit to conduct an assessment and a standardized questionnaire to determine how many hours of home care you or your loved one is eligible for.
Shortcomings of publicly funded home care: 1) There are often long wait lists 2) It is unlikely that you will qualify for the number of care hours you actually need 3) The services you qualify for may not be the type of services you actually needed 4) Care providers will come at predetermined times of the day, and not necessarily at times that you need them to come.
Families often need to supplement their care with private pay options.
Did you know? If you receive publicly funded home care (ie from the LHIN), you are exempt from paying HST on all additional private home care that you purchase. If you are purchasing home care from Vidal Home Care, simply provide us proof of your eligibility and we will not charge tax on your services.
There are additional resources that could help with the costs of home care. Seniors in Need is a non-profit organization that connects donors with seniors in need. A referral from a sponsor is needed. Other nonprofits, healthcare providers, social workers, etc, need to register with Seniors in Need to become a sponsor. They can then submit details of a senior they have encountered and who needs financial assistance. To be eligible, candidates must be at least 65 years old and lack the financial resources to provide the necessities of daily living. The sponsor describes the candidate’s situation and specifies how donors can help while maintaining the candidate’s anonymity. Submissions are posted on Seniors in Need for 90 days where donors can view and reach out to contact the sponsor to help the selected candidate.
Home care, while being a preference for most seniors, is not an option or preference for everyone. Below are some other options that your family can consider:
Long-term care homes (LTC), also called nursing homes, provide around the clock personal and nursing care for seniors with intensive care needs. Fees vary depending on the type of room; basic, semi-private or private, and are standardized across the province. See the costs in Ontario for these room options. Posted fees are government subsidized, however, if you are still unable to afford the cost of a basic room you may qualify for additional subsidy. While being the most affordable option for around-the-clock personal care, LTC residences have long wait lists and generally low quality indicators. Eligibility requires a referral from the LHIN.
Supportive housing provides around-the-clock, on-site assistance, but not the intensive care that one would expect from LTC homes. They are appropriate for seniors who are mentally stable and able to direct their own care. Supportive housing is government owned. Rent costs are reflective of market rent prices but costs are subsidized based on household income.
Retirement homes are completely privately funded so they are likely the costliest of options. Services provided and costs vary from one home to another, so families must do their research to find the most suitable home based on care needs, budget and location. Retirement homes are regulated by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) to ensure safety and quality. Though costs of retirement homes are not subsidized, it may be HST exempt if you are concurrently receiving care from the LHIN.
Independent living refers to a community (can be apartments, townhouses or bungalows) for seniors, offering services like meals, laundry and housekeeping but not personal care. They are not government subsidized and not regulated by any authoritative body. Independent living communities offer seniors social benefits by being surrounded by other seniors. Some independent living communities offer life lease purchases; these give you the right to occupy a unit in the community, but not the actual property. You are able to sell the life lease, just as you would property. Read more on life leases.
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The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit provides tax rebates for modifying your home to make it safer, allowing you to claim up to $10,000 a year and receive a 15% refundable tax credit for renovations such as non-slip flooring.
The Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant helps seniors with the cost of their property taxes and is available to seniors over 64 years old. Eligible applicants can get up to $500 each year. Single seniors must meet the income requirements of $50,000 or less and married or common-law seniors must meet the income requirements of $60,000 or less as a couple. You apply for the grant by completing the ON-BEN Application for the Ontario Trillium Benefit and Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant, which is part of the personal income tax and benefit return.
The Ontario Trillium Benefit is a combination of the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, the Ontario Sales Tax Credit and the Northern Ontario Energy Credit. The eligibility criteria and benefit amount changes from year to year, so visit their website for up to date information.
A reverse mortgage is a type of home loan for seniors that allow them to access the equity in their homes. There are no mortgage payments and interest is added to the loan balance each month. Payment is deferred until they die, sell or move out of the home. In Canada, reverse mortgages are available to seniors over 55 years old and the total balance of the loan cannot exceed the fair market value of the home. Reverse mortgages can be a viable option for seniors to fund their living costs in retirement.
Long term care insurance is an insurance product designed to cover costs of home care, assisted living, respite care, hospice care and other care not typically covered by government health plans. The decision to buy long term care insurance involves a balance between putting more money into retirement savings versus spending that money on insurance premiums. The common risk in waiting too long to consider this product is that premiums are typically higher in older age, making it less appealing.
Insured Retirement Plans is a retirement tax strategy that may be suitable for high net worth individuals who have maxed out their RRSPs and TFSAs. Essentially, it is the purchase of a universal life insurance policy, into which deposits are made during income earning years. The investment portion of the policy grows tax-free. Upon retirement, instead of withdrawing from the investment as income, the policy is used as collateral for a loan. The loan is used as tax-free income. Upon death, the outstanding balance of the loan is paid by the insurance policy.
A life annuity protects seniors from the risk of outliving their money, or a market downturn just before retirement that may erode their retirement fund. The basic concept behind an annuity is that in exchange for a lump-sum premium, an insurance company guarantees to pay an income for life. Annuity payouts can supplement other sources of lifetime income such as Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) or a defined benefit pension. When an annuity is purchased later in life, the premium is cheaper or the monthly payouts are higher because the total payout period is expected to be shorter. It can be appropriate for seniors to use a portion of their RRSP savings to purchase a life annuity and convert it into a regular income stream.
The information provided may not be up-to-date or misconstrued as advice. Please consult the respective websites for the latest up-to-date information.