TORONTO – Ontario NDP Tenant Rights critic Jessica Bell (University–Rosedale) will introduce a bill to better protect seniors living in retirement homes against unfair rent increases, service fees and evictions.
Bell created the bill in response to the mass eviction in 2019 of over 100 seniors from Davenhill Senior Living at Yonge and Bloor.
Bell held a virtual press conference Thursday, joined by Francine Volker, whose mother was evicted from Davenhill and subsequently suffered a significant decline; Graeme Kirkland, who had to fight against a $1,000-per-month service increase imposed by the retirement home where his wife is a resident; and Clara McGregor, a lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly.
"If we truly believe that seniors deserve to live in safe housing without the worry they'll be evicted, then the Ontario government should vote for my Protecting Seniors in Retirement Homes Bill" said Bell.
"Seniors deserve the same rights as any other tenant, including proper compensation if a landlord evicts them, and protection from eviction caused by unfair price gouging, where retirement homes dramatically hike the cost of basic services."
If passed, the bill would amend Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act to extend rent control protections for senior residents in care homes, restrict retirement home providers from imposing unlimited fee hikes to vulnerable seniors, and close the loophole that makes it easy for retirement home operators to get out of providing residents with three months’ rent compensation if they evict them.
Bell will table the bill in the Ontario legislature on Monday.
Graeme Kirkland, a small-town Ontario resident and caregiver for his wife, who lives in a retirement home and has Parkinson’s and dementia:
“Our rent was not increased for 2021 but we received notice of a 54% ($12,000) increase in meals and services with no explanation and learned the meaning of economic eviction. There are flaws in the laws protecting residents in Care Homes. Our story is about one home. We cannot speak to the practices of others.
It was not disclosed to us that we were paying up to 35% more for the same meals than paid by some other residents. We protested the increase, which was deferred without a new date. Five months later, we are scheduled to receive an increase of six percent, still without the required information package.”
Francine Volker, whose mother was evicted from Davenhill Senior Living and forced to move into a new home far way where she felt isolated. Her health quickly deteriorated and she passed away in November 2020:
“[The eviction] was like a psychic shock to my mother. She kept saying, 'How can they do this to me?'"
Clara McGregor, Staff lawyer at Advocacy Centre for the Elderly:
“At the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, we are regularly contacted by retirement home tenants who have received notice of unaffordable care service and meal fee increases – increases that are permitted under the current Residential Tenancies Act.
This bill aims to amend the law to limit the amount and frequency of fee increases for tenants who receive care services and meals from their landlords, thereby protecting these tenants from economic eviction. The Bill will also ensure that in situations where a retirement home ceases to operate, its tenants will be given appropriate notice, and information about security of tenure, compensation, and other housing rights.”