Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

June 22, 2009 23:59 ET

CMHC 2009 seniors' housing survey

MONTREAL, June 22 - According to the results of the National
Seniors' Housing Survey conducted by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
(CMHC) in February 2009, the vacancy rate for standard retirement home spaces
stood at 7.9 per cent in Quebec. Standard spaces include all types of units
where residents receive less than one and a half hours of medical care per

Vacancy Rates

In urban centres with 100,000 or more inhabitants (namely, census
metropolitan areas, or CMAs), the results were mixed. In the Saguenay area,
the vacancy rate for standard spaces stood at 1.6 per cent, the smallest of
Quebec's major urban centres. With a vacancy rate of 8 per cent, the Montréal
CMA posted conditions that were the most similar to those prevailing at the
provincial level. In the Québec CMA, the survey results revealed that the
vacancy rate for standard spaces reached 7.1 per cent in February 2009. The
Gatineau stood out with a rate of 17.2 per cent. With a vacancy rate of just
under 10 per cent, the Sherbrooke CMA had the second highest proportion of
unoccupied spaces. Lastly, in the Trois-Rivières CMA, the vacancy rate for
standard spaces reached 5.3 per cent in 2009. "In the case of Gatineau, the
higher rate is partially explained by the recent arrival of residences on that
market," stated Kevin Hughes, Regional Economist at CMHC.

In the large census agglomerations (CAs), that is, those with 50,000 to
99,999 inhabitants, the tightest market conditions were noted in Shawinigan
and Granby (with vacancy rates of 2.6 per cent and 3.3 per cent, respectively)
while, in Drummondville and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, more than one in ten
units had not yet found takers. With a vacancy rate of 8 per cent, the
Saint-Hyacinthe CA stood in the middle of the pack. As for retirement homes in
rural areas (with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants), they recorded a vacancy rate
of 9.4 per cent, or just above the average for Quebec overall.

Survey Universe

According to the latest survey, there were 32,603 room-and-board units
among all standard spaces in Quebec. This figure represents nearly 40 per cent
of the 83,025 retirement home units across Quebec. One-bedroom apartments were
the second most common unit type (32 per cent of standard spaces), followed by
bachelor units (17 per cent of standard spaces) and two-bedroom apartments (12
per cent of standard spaces).

Average rents

The survey results revealed that the average rent for standard spaces in
Quebec was $1,333 in February 2009. Average monthly costs stood at $1,266 for
room-and-board units and at $1,338 in the case of semi-private rooms. As for
apartments, the monthly rents were $1,179 for bachelor units, $1,372 for
one-bedroom apartments and $1,670 for two-bedroom units. Also, as a sign of
the more significant medical care provided there, heavy care spaces had an
average rent of $2,563 at the time of our latest survey, for a difference of
about $1,300 with the average for standard rooms.

Among all the CMAs, Gatineau had the highest average rent, at $1,695. In
the Montréal area, the average rent was $1,417 in February 2009. The Island of
Montréal, where 29 per cent of the spaces were in the upper rent range (more
than $1,600), was the most expensive sector (with an average rent of $1,476)
in the CMA. This rent was about the same as the average cost to live in a
retirement home in the Québec area ($1,480) at the time of our latest survey.
As for the Saguenay and Trois-Rivières areas, their average rents were very
similar, both at around $1,280. The Sherbrooke area stood out with the most
affordable average rent, at $1,178. "The arrival of many new units with more
care services on the Gatineau market in recent years has likely contributed to
reaching such a result in this area," added Kevin Hughes.

Capture rates

The capture rate, as defined by the survey, is the proportion of the
population aged 75 years or older living in the retirement homes included in
the survey universe. In Quebec, the capture rate stood at 17.3 per cent at the
time our survey in February 2009. This was the highest rate in Canada and the
only one that was above the 10-per-cent mark. The closest Canadian province
was Prince Edward Island, with a capture rate of 9.8 per cent. In the Western
provinces, the Prairies, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador, the capture
rates varied between 4.9 per cent and 7.3 per cent. In other words, while
about one in five people aged 75 years or older lived in a retirement home in
Quebec, only around one in twenty did so in the provinces listed above. In
Nova Scotia, this rate was even below 1 per cent. "This does not necessarily
mean that people aged 75 years or older in the rest of Canada do not change
housing tenures. It may be that a non-negligible number of them go from
ownership to condominium or to rental tenure but not to a specialized
'retirement' residence," explained Kevin Hughes.

Among the Quebec CMAs, the Sherbrooke area had the highest capture rate,
at 31 per cent. In fact, nearly one in three people aged 75 years or older
lived in a retirement home in the capital of the Eastern Townships. The
Trois-Rivières CMA had the second highest capture rate (26 per cent), followed
by the Saguenay and Québec CMAs, with rates of 20 per cent. The areas with the
lowest capture rates were Montréal and Gatineau, which had rates of 17 per
cent and 15 per cent, respectively.

As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 60 years of
experience to help Canadians access a variety of quality, environmentally
sustainable, and affordable homes-homes that will continue to create vibrant
and healthy communities and cities across the country. For more information,
visit or call 1-800-668-2642.

Vacancy Rates (%) of Standard Spaces by Unit Type

Centre Private Private One Two
Room Room Bachelor Bedroom Bedroom Total
Gatineau CMA 8.6a n/u 9.6a 24.2a 25.8a 17.2a
Montréal CMA 10.6a 15.1a 9.4a 6.7a 5.7a 8.0a
Québec CMA 8.0a 27.3a 9.5a 5.4a 6.5a 7.1a
Saguenay CMA 2.5a (xx) 0.3a 0.7a 2.0a 1.6a
Sherbrooke CMA 6.7a (xx) 18.6a 13.6a 2.9b 9.7a
CMA 6.2a (xx) 4.1a 4.8a 6.9a 5.3a
CA 8.0a n/u 2.4a 10.3a 32.8a 11.6a
Shawinigan CA 2.4a n/u (xx) 2.6a (xx) 2.6a
Granby CA 3.2b n/u 4.8c (xx) (xx) 3.3b
Hyacinthe CA 6.1a (xx) 20.0a 5.2a 6.2a 8.0a
lieu CA 23.3a n/u (xx) 0.6a (xx) 12.3a
Rural 10.0a (xx) 9.4b 5.1c 4.9c 9.4a
Province of
Québec 8.9a 25.9d 8.7a 6.7a 6.5a 7.9a

Universe of Standard Spaces by Unit Type

Centre Private One Two
Room Bachelor Bedroom Bedroom Total
Gatineau CMA 579a a 677a 256a 1,782a
Montréal CMA 8,365a 6,662a 14,348a 5,608a 34,982a
Québec CMA 2,491a 1,882a 3,588a 1,136a 9,096a
Saguenay CMA 943a (xx) 563a (xx) 1,966a
Sherbrooke CMA 1,757a (xx) 1,003a (xx) 3,664a
Trois-Rivières CMA (xx) 824a 975a (xx) 3,137a
Drummondville CA 576a 254a (xx) (xx) 1,513a
Shawinigan CA 973a (xx) (xx) (xx) (xx)
Granby CA 715a 201b (xx) (xx) 1,128a
Saint-Hyacinthe CA 580a 165a 326a 226a 1,297a
Richelieu CA 651a (xx) 386a 115a 1,245a
Rural 8,321a 745b (xx) (xx) 10,996a
Province of Québec 32,603a 13,843a 26,965a 9,615a 83,025a

Average Rent ($) of Standard Spaces by Unit Type

Centre Private Private One Two
Room Room Bachelor Bedroom Bedroom Total
Gatineau CMA 1,617a n/u 1,510a 1,734a 1,961a 1,695a
Montréal CMA 1,500a 1,709a 1,148a 1,370a 1,720a 1,417a
Québec CMA 1,435a 1,617a 1,303a 1,494a 1,829a 1,480a
Saguenay CMA 1,101a (xx) 1,166a 1,514a 1,680a 1,274a
Sherbrooke CMA 1,155a (xx) 1,067a 1,155a 1,437a 1,178a
Rivières CMA 1,182a (xx) 1,173a 1,401a 1,505a 1,286a
ville CA 922a n/u 1,148a 1,267a 1,771a 1,195a
CA 1,159a n/u (xx) 1,112a (xx) 1,158a
Granby CA 1,189a n/u 1,281a (xx) (xx) 1,254a
CA 1,249a (xx) 1,426a 1,316a 934a 1,230a
lieu CA 1,188a n/u (xx) 1,114a 1,350a 1,170a
Rural 1,096a (xx) 1,117a 1,171a 1,370a 1,116a
Province of
Québec 1,266a 1,338a 1,179a 1,372a 1,670a 1,333a

The following letter codes are used to indicate the reliability of
the estimates:
a - Excellent, b - Very good, c - Good, d - Fair (Use with Caution)
(xx) Data suppressed to protect confidentiality or data is not
statistically reliable
n/u: No units exist in universe for this category
n/s: No units exist in the sample for this category
n/a: Not applicable


- CMHC conducted its first National Seniors' Housing Survey in February
and March 2009. Previously, CMHC had regional seniors' reports in B.C.,
Ontario and Quebec, which were published annually.

- The new national survey was conducted in all 10 provinces and in all
centres regardless of size, which had a residence meeting the
eligibility criteria.

- The survey targeted private and non-profit residences where the
majority of residents were 65 years of age or older and had access to
additional services not offered in traditional rental structures. To be
eligible for the survey, a residence must provide an on-site meal plan
or on-site medical services. Virtually all residences surveyed provided
an on-site meal plan. Other amenities and services that were popular in
some of the residences included on-site medical services (57.8 per
cent), transportation services (44.2 per cent) and 24 hour call-bell
service (92.0 per cent). Note that the survey excluded nursing homes
and long-term care facilities.

- Across Canada, some 43 per cent of standard spaces in the seniors'
housing market rented for less than $1,500 and 22.0 per cent of spaces
rented for $2,500 or more per month.

- Some 176,845 seniors lived in the 2,464 residences surveyed, capturing
8.2 per cent of the Canadian population at, or above, the age of 75.

Contact Information

  • Province: Kevin Hughes, Regional Economist
    CMHC, (514) 283-4488; Montréal: Bertrand Recher, Senior Market Analyst, (514)
    283-2758; Québec: Elisabeth Koulouris, Senior Market Analyst, (418) 649-8098;
    Gatineau (Outaouais, Abitibi): Patrice Tardif, Senior Market Analyst, (514)
    283-2097; Sherbrooke (Estrie): Francis Cortellino, Market Analyst, (514)
    283-8391; Trois-Rivières (Mauricie): Marie-Elaine Denis, Market Analyst, (418)
    649-8100; Saguenay: Patrice Tardif, Senior Market Analyst, (514) 283-2097