Ontario Bill 21, Retirement Homes Act 2010

July 14, 2011
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Ontario Bill 21, Retirement Homes Act 2010 was adopted on June 8, 2011. It creates mandatory care and safety standards for retirement home residents. It establishes requirements for emergency plans, infection control and prevention programs, assessment of care needs and care planning, police background checks, and training for staff in retirement homes, as well as residents’ rights to live in environments that have zero-tolerance policies toward abuse and neglect.


The Bill enacts a new Act, the Retirement Homes Act, 2010, to regulate retirement homes. A retirement home is defined in the Act as a residential complex or part of a residential complex whose main characteristics are that the home is a place that is occupied or intended to be occupied by at least the number of persons prescribed by the regulations made under the Act who are not related to the operator of the home and where the operator of the home makes at least two care services, which are also defined, available to the residents. Retirement homes do not include premises or parts of premises that are governed by or funded under any of a number of Acts, such as the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007.

Part I sets out, as a fundamental principle for interpreting the Act and the regulations made under it, that a retirement home is to be operated so that it is a place where residents live with dignity, respect, privacy and autonomy, in security, safety and comfort and can make informed choices about their care options. The Part also sets out definitions and interpretative rules for the Act.

Part II establishes the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority as a corporation without share capital to administer the Act and the regulations made under it with certain educational functions. The Lieutenant Governor in Council is only allowed to appoint a minority of the members of the board of directors of the Authority. The Authority is required to appoint a Registrar, a Risk Officer and a Complaints Review Officer. The Authority can set and charge fees. Money that the Authority collects is the money of the Authority, and not public money. Part II also establishes the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority Emergency Fund. The regulations made under the Act can govern the operation of the Fund which can be used to pay claims of residents under the Act.

Part III requires that a person must have a licence issued by the Registrar in order to operate a retirement home, whereas no licence is required before the Act is enacted. A licence relates to a specific retirement home. The Registrar can conduct inquiries before issuing a licence to an applicant and can impose conditions on a licence. An applicant for a licence or a licensee is entitled to make submissions to the Registrar before the Registrar refuses to issue a licence or imposes conditions on a licence. An appeal is allowed to the Licence Appeal Tribunal.

Part IV sets out a Residents’ Bill of Rights for retirement homes. A licensee of a retirement home is required to enter into a written agreement with every resident of the home before the resident commences residency in the home and to give every resident a package of information about the resident’s rights by that time. A licensee is also required to make that package of information, along with other information, available in the home. Residents of a retirement home are allowed to establish a Residents’ Council for the home. The Council has various powers, such as the power to inform residents of their rights and obligations under the Act and to attempt to resolve disputes between the licensee and the residents.

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