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How to start a seniors' care business in Ontario
Table of contents
Seniors are one of the fastest growing population groups in Canada and the demand for senior care services is rising.
Examples of services that may be provided to seniors are:
- Meal preparation
- Assisted daily living (such as ambulatory care or bathing)
The most common types of personal care facilities for seniors include:
- Retirement homes
Privately owned accommodations for seniors who are able to manage and pay for their own care. Retirement home clients generally need minimal support with daily living activities.
- Supportive housing
Designed for people who need minimal to moderate care, for example housekeeping or personal care, to live independently.
- Long-term care homes
Designed for people who require the availability of 24-hour nursing care and supervision in a secure setting.
When you start a business there are several things to consider before you can sell your product or service. Most businesses in Ontario need to complete a minimum of three basic steps:
- Find out what licences and regulations apply to your type of business
- Choose a business structure and register or incorporate your business
- Determine if you will need to collect and remit HST
Our Starting a Business guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.
Starting a Business
Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.
In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use the Canada Business Permits and Licences Search, powered by BizPaL, to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact us to speak to someone about starting your business.
Permits and licences search
Licences, permits and regulations that apply to starting a senior care facility include:
Retirement home licensing
In Ontario, you must obtain a license for your seniors' personal care business from the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA), and make sure that you comply with their rules and requirements.
Contact the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority:
Retirement homes - licensing
Health inspections for long-term care homes
Your long-term care home (also called a nusing home) needs to be inspected annually to ensure that you are following the standards for senior services in Ontario. Find out more about the Long-term Care Home Quality Inspection Program (LQIP) from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.
Landlord and tenant rights
Ensure that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, including rent increase guidelines.
Contact the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing:
Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Personal information protection
If you gather personal information from your clients, make sure that you are following the rules of collection, use and disclosure of personal information in Canada:
Contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada:
Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) - For businesses
Health information protection
In Ontario, when you gather health information from your residents and clients, make sure that you follow the rules of collection, use and disclosure of that information.
Contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario:
1-800-387-0073 (within Ontario)
Guidance documents published by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
You can contact Pro Bono Ontario’s free legal advice hotline to enquire about getting help with your everyday civil legal needs (no family law or criminal law). The service is generally aimed at those who cannot afford a lawyer.
Note that service is not guaranteed and you will be asked questions as part of the qualifying process, such as the amount of personal income earned by your household, your name, postal code and age range.
Contact Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline:
You can also contact the Law Society of Ontario's Law Society Referral Service if you have legal questions of a business nature. The service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.
Law Society Referral Service
Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.
If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12-month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.
Canada Revenue Agency
Grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees are available from various government sources. Use Innovation Canada’s online search tool to look for programs and services that may apply to your business.
Grow your business
From day-to-day operations to long-term planning, learn how to manage your business efficiently.
If you are interested in finding an association, use our secondary market research service request and have us search for one based on your needs.
Industry specific information
- A Guide to Programs and Services for Seniors in Ontario
- CMHC: Managing Affordable Housing
- Family Councils Ontario
- Canadian Institute for Health Information
- Public Health Agency of Canada: Aging and Seniors
- Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority: Operator Resources
- Canadian Red Cross: Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP)
You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Small Business Services (SBS) community partner, contact us at 1-888-576-4444.