OTTAWA, May 31, 2017 — The vacancy rate for seniors’ residences decreased modestly over the past year in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, according to the regional Seniors’ Housing Reports released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Our survey distinguishes between two types of spaces: standard and non-standard spaces. Standard spaces, also referred to as independent living, are those occupied by a resident paying market rent and who does not receive 1.5 or more hours of care per day. A non-standard space is one in which the residents are receiving at least 1.5 hours of care per day, spaces being used for respite and non-market spaces.

Given the unique nature of the seniors’ residence markets across the country due to differences in provincial regulations, CMHC produces six provincial reports and one report for the Atlantic Provinces. This release highlights key storylines in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia where seniors’ housing markets are most prominent.


Foreground: Kevin Hughes, Regional Economist (Quebec), CMHC

Background: Library setting, library shelving

Kevin Hughes: “The progressive decrease of the vacancy rate in retirement homes reflects sustained demand. Today 18% of Quebecers aged 75 years and over live in a private retirement home. The remainder have chosen other dwelling types. The baby boomers are approaching a time in their lives where housing changes usually occur. It will therefore be important to follow their residential trajectory, since they are a large demographic group, which will have a major impact on the housing sector of tomorrow.”



  • The vacancy rate in standard spaces dropped to 6.2% in 2017 from 6.8% in 2016 while that of non-standard spaces also dropped to 5.0% from 5.5% over the same period.
  • The capture rate dipped slightly to 17.9%.
  • The average rent for standard spaces stood at $1,678 per month while heavy care spaces rent climbed 6% to $3,200 per month.


  • The vacancy rate for standard spaces dropped to 10.4% in 2017, its lowest level since 2009, while the vacancy rate for all spaces declined to 10.3%, its lowest point since 2001.
  • Total supply of seniors’ housing grew by 2.4% to 57,663 spaces in 2017, slower than the 2.9% growth rate for the population aged 75 years and older.
  • The average rent for a standard space increased by less than 1% to $3,526.

British Columbia

  • A growing seniors population in British Columbia supports increasing demand for seniors’ housing.
  • The number of independent living spaces in British Columbia increased by approximately 500 units this year, compared with 2016.
  • The overall vacancy rate for independent living spaces in seniors’ residences in British Columbia was 4.5 per cent this year, a decline of nearly two percentage points, compared with 2016.

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“The progressive decrease of the vacancy rate in private retirement homes reflects sustained demand. But while 18 per cent of Quebecers aged 75 years and older live in a retirement home, the others opt for alternative forms of housing. It will be critical for us to understand the residential trajectory of baby-boomers as it will be a determining factor for the future of the housing sector and for society as a whole.”
— Kevin Hughes, Regional Economist, Quebec, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
“The vacancy rate for independent living spaces for seniors in British Columbia declined by almost 2 percentage points this year compared with 2016. While rising demand and operating costs have increased monthly rents, large price increases in the resale market over the past few years have supported some seniors’ ability to move into independent living and heavy care spaces.”
— Keith Stewart, Market Analyst, British Columbia, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
“The overall vacancy rate in Ontario reached the lowest level since 2001 as demand for seniors’ housing has outpaced supply. Vacancy rates dropped in more than half of the Ontario markets in 2017. Many areas showed signs of pent-up demand due to greater demand growth than growth in supply.”
— Jean Sebastien Michel, Principal, Market Analysis, Ontario, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Information on this release:

Audrey-Anne Coulombe
CMHC Media Relations

CMHC Media Content

  • Kevin Hughes Video Clip — English (12.119 MB)
  • Kevin Hughes Headshot  (3.208 MB)
  • Keith Stewart Headshot  (1.808 MB)
  • Jean Sebastien Michel Headshot  (2.123 MB)
Download this Media Package

(ZIP — 18.5 MB)

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Date Published: March 31, 2018