Owners of long-term care facilities decide it’s more profitable to sell to developers than to make them safe

April 24 2023

The Globe and Mail is reporting that the 20 owners of several for-profit long-term care facilities are planning on selling them to developers, as a way to get around upgrading them to meet provincial standards intended to protect vulnerable seniors.

Facility upgrades needed to prevent a repeat of COVID-19 death toll

In response to the higher death toll in facilities with 4-bedrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government is pushing the owners of long-term care facilities to modernize their facilities. This will help make long-term care facilities safer and improve the quality of care. But, some for-profit owners have decided it’s more profitable to sell their properties to developers than to spend the money needed to make them safe.

For-profit ownership a barrier to making long-term care facilities safer

Thisis decision isn’t a surprise. For years, the provincial government has been pushing long-term care facility owners to upgrade their facilities to meet current safety regulations. And the provincial government was providing financial assistance for the upgrades. But while owners of public and non-profit facilities generally took steps to make them safer, for-profit owners were more reluctant.

In 2020, 49% of beds in for-profit facilities were still only meeting 1972 standards. That was far worse than the conditions in not-for-profit facilities, where only 12% of beds were still at that level, and in public facilities, where the figure was only 8%.

Sale of long-term care facilities shows how privatization leaves the public vulnerable

One of the claims that is made repeatedly by the privatization industry is that paying private companies to deliver public services is no different from governments providing services. That’s just wrong.

The research consistently shows that when public services are privatized, the need to make a profit means that the public and workers delivering services are short-changed. NUPGE’s report on long-term care privatization Neglecting the Most Vulnerable shows how reliance on for-profit providers has made problems with long-term care far worse.

But, that’s only part of the problem. When infrastructure is privately owned, the owners can sell it off if they get a better offer. That means that, even though the owners of for-profit facilities were only able to acquire them because of the public money they received, the public have no way of ensuring that those facilities will continue to be used for long-term care.