BC added a mere 105 units of publicly subsidized assisted living over nearly a decade (2010-17), despite a growing population of seniors. As a result, access to publicly subsidized assisted living has dropped, while the number of private-pay units grew by leaps and bounds over the same period, with 1,130 private-pay units added.
In a new report, Assisted Living in British Columbia: Trends in access, affordability and ownership, author Andrew Longhurst notes that fees for private-pay assisted living come entirely out of residents’ pockets and the provincial government does not limit how much operators can charge. Average annual rents range from just over $24,000 for an assisted living bachelor suite to more than $36,000 for a one bedroom, plus a myriad of additional fees for “extra” services and supplies not included in the basic monthly rate. The median (middle) income for a single senior in BC is $27,600.
The study also raises concerns about the growing role of for-profit companies and corporate chains in the assisted living sector. For-profit corporations provide the vast majority of private-pay units, while non-profits provide the majority of publicly subsidized units.