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Seniors’ housing: Quebec needs entrepreneurs

Montreal, April 26, 2018 – With the population aged 75 and older expected to double by 2031, the government should rely more on entrepreneurs to meet seniors’ demand for housing and care, shows a publication launched today by the MEI.

Last December, a little over 2,400 people aged 75 and over were waiting—an average of 15 months in some regions—for a housing space in a CHSLD, according to the Health and Welfare Commissioner, who noted that the number of beds has fallen in recent years.

“Given the projected strong growth of the population of seniors, the shortage of spaces in the public system will likely get worse, especially since the government tends to react slowly to an increase in the demand for care,” explains Patrick Déry, Public Policy Analyst at the MEI and author of the publication.

In the private sector, contrary to CHSLDs, the market for seniors’ residences adjusted to the growing demand, and the number of spaces in Quebec increased by 20% from 2011 to 2017. Quebec also features the lowest rents in the country.

“It is one of the components of the health care system that works well,” points out Mr. Déry. Indeed, studies have shown that the quality of care is high in Quebec’s private residences. A recent poll also indicates that the overall satisfaction rate of users is 94%, and climbs to 98% when it comes specifically to care.

Private residences account for two thirds of seniors’ housing spaces in Quebec. Parallel to this, the government subsidizes a network of long-term care facilities (CHSLDs), either fully public or “private funded.” The latter, which number 62 out of 432 CHSLDs in the public system, are run by entrepreneurs.

“Even in the CHSLD network funded by the government, those that are managed by private companies do better,” says Patrick Déry. “The overall quality of care provided in private funded CHSLDs is higher than that provided in CHSLDs run by the government, according to a Department of Health report. In addition, they pay taxes!”

Among other things, 70% of private funded CHSLDs provided, according to this report, a “very adequate” living environment, versus just 17% of fully public CHSLDs. And yet, the way they are accessed, the clientele, the cost of housing, and the working conditions are the same.

“Senior housing and care centres run by entrepreneurs already respond successfully to the needs of tens of thousands of seniors housed in private residences in Quebec. The government would be well-advised to draw on entrepreneurship for the future development of the CHSLD system,” adds Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the MEI. “Their success could serve as inspiration for other parts of the Quebec health care system, notably the hospital sector.”

The Viewpoint entitled “Relying on Entrepreneurs to House and Care for Our Seniors” was prepared by Patrick Déry, Public Policy Analyst at the MEI. This publication is available on our website.

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The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its studies and its conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms.

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Interview requests: Pascale Déry, Vice President, Communications and Development, MEI / Tel.: 514-273-0969 ext. 2233 / Cell.: 514-502-6757 / Email: pdery@iedm.org

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