Senior Housing Occupancy Surges in Major Canadian Markets

Senior housing oversupply is putting pressure on providers in some major metros across the United States. North of the border, the story is a little different: Supply is not keeping up with demand in some of Canada’s largest markets.

In the province of Ontario, the vacancy rate for senior housing and care spaces has declined to 10.3% this year, which is its lowest point since 2001, according to a recently released report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

In “standard spaces”—where residents require fewer than 1.5 hours of care daily—the vacancy rate in Ontario has dropped to 10.4%, which is its lowest level since 2009, the report states.

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“Many markets showed signs of pent-up demand due to greater demand growth than growth in supply in the recent past, as well as a lack of new supply in the pipeline (completed in 2016 or under construction),” the report states.

As in the United States, supply-demand dynamics vary greatly from market to market, and there are some oversupplied markets in Ontario, including the Canadian capital of Ottawa. However, the metropolis of Toronto is among the markets showing signs of pent-up demand.

Occupancy also is trending up in the provinces of Quebec and British Columbia.

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In British Columbia—where Vancouver is located—the vacancy rate for independent living residences plunged from 6.3% in 2016 to 4.5% this year.

With an eye toward meeting all this demand, some major Canadian senior housing providers are taking on building projects.

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Réseau Sélection, the largest private sector owner, buyer, developer and operator of retirement communities in Quebec, is developing a 30-story tower near Montreal that will have 286 total units upon completion. Revera—another Canada-based senior housing giant, which also is an owner of U.S. operator Sunrise Senior Living—will co-own the high-rise.

Written by Tim Mullaney

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