Beds like homes: people don’t like Ford’s idea

TORONTO – Prime Minister Doug Ford tried a magic shot by including the beds in newly built Long Term Care Homes (nursing and retirement homes for the elderly) in the house count. And he did it openly. He also told reporters on Friday: “I challenge anyone to talk to these elderly people and tell them they have a bed and not a house” the Ontario premier said. “They have their own room, they eat in a dining room with everyone else. These are homes…”. 

Its stated objective is to increase the official number of houses built and under construction, at a time when housing is a real emergency. But his voters, the inhabitants of Ontarians, are now cold on him: according to a survey published today, in fact, the vast majority of those interviewed do not believe that a bed in a long-term care facility can be considered “a new home”.

In 2023, provincial data shows 109,000 new cases built in Ontario. A further breakdown of these numbers shows that 89,000 were housing starts, 9,800 were basement dwellings (basements), and 9,800 were nursing home beds. The addition of the beds has helped some communities in the province cross the finish line to get funding from the Ontario government, allowing them to benefit from millions from the $1.2 billion Building Faster Fund. The premier defended the move, but new polling shows a majority of Ontarians disagree with him.

When asked whether governments should “treat new long-term care beds as new homes” 63% of respondents actually said “no,” while only 23% believe they should. Even among those aged 65 and older, only 29% agree with the government, while 58% do not think a long-term care bed should count as a home. The survey – carried out by telephone by Liaison Strategies on a sample of 1,200 Ontarians between March 8 and 9 – shows, however, at the same time, that many people (40%) believe that the Province is “doing more to create new housing” than the federal (24%) and municipal (24%) governments. The survey also finds that 55 per cent of respondents believe not enough housing has been created by various levels of government across the province, while 23 per cent believe the amount of homes built is fair. When asked what they think about housing construction in their neighborhood, 57% of citizens said they believe the number of new homes built is the right amount.

As is known, the Ford government has set a goal of 1.5 million new homes in Ontario over the next ten years. How many of these will be… beds?

Above, the rendering of a Long Term Care Home project (image taken from the website