Canada: Labour And Employment Issues Arising From The Implementation Of The Retirement Homes Act, 2010

Last Updated: April 15 2013
Article by Lisa C. Cabel and Maria Gergin

Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2016

The Retirement Homes Act, 2010 [the "Act"], whose provisions are being gradually phased into force since April 2012, sets out a new regulatory scheme for the retirement home industry in the province, and will likely impact retirement homes' duties and obligations as employers, as well as labour relations in the sector as a whole.

The Act applies only to entities that are a residential complex or part of a residential complex, and:

  • are occupied primarily by persons who are 65 years of age or older,
  • are occupied by at least the prescribed number of persons who are not related to the home's owner, and
  • make at least two care services available to residents.

The Act does not apply to premises governed by other provincial legislation, such as the Long-Term Care Homes Act, Public Hospitals Act, Homes for Special Care Act, Private Hospitals Act, or Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008, as such premises are not considered "retirement homes" under the Act.

The Act sets out a wide and far-reaching range of obligations that retirement homes must comply with. Most notably, as of July 2012, all entities wishing to operate as retirement homes in Ontario must now apply to the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) for a license. Some of the Act's other provisions, which address safety standards and compliance, staff skills, hiring guidelines and prescribed qualifications and training for staff, are in the process of being phased into force. As unionized retirement homes enter collective bargaining negotiations, it will be important to understand these obligations in order to ensure that they are properly considered at the bargaining table. For those that remain non-unionized, these obligations equally apply.


The Act provides that as an employer, a retirement home has specific obligations towards its staff, including the duty to ensure that staff have the proper skills and qualifications to perform their duties. In addition, as of July 1, 2014, every retirement home must ensure that specific screening measures, including police background checks, are conducted before hiring staff and accepting volunteers to work in the home. Notably, the Act defines "staff" broadly to include individuals who work or provide services at the home as an employee, individuals who work or provide services pursuant to a contract or agreement with the home, and individuals who work or provide services pursuant to a contract or agreement between the retirement home and an employment agency or other third party. As such, retirement homes will likely need to streamline their hiring policies and processes in order to ensure uniform compliance with the new hiring measures.


The Act sets out a number of care services standards, including the creation of an individualized plan of care for each resident, and directions for staff with regards to these services.

The Act also currently requires every retirement home to develop and enforce a written policy to promote zero tolerance on the abuse and neglect of residents [the "Zero Tolerance Policy"]. Ontario Regulation 166/11 [the "Regulation"] sets out detailed requirements for the contents of the Zero Tolerance Policy, as well as an accompanying program for the prevention of abuse and neglect of residents. The program must contain procedures for investigating and responding to alleged, suspected or witnessed abuse and neglect of residents, and must set out the consequences for staff who abuse or neglect residents.

All staff must be continuously trained with respect to the Zero Tolerance Policy and program, including with respect to power imbalances between staff and residents, and the potential for abuse and neglect by those in a position of trust, power and responsibility for resident care. Retirement homes will be required to consider the requirements relating to the Zero Tolerance Policy and program in the context of any existing progressive discipline policies and thresholds for just cause dismissal of staff.


The Act places a duty on retirement homes to report to the RHRA Registrar every alleged, suspected or witnessed incident of abuse or neglect of a resident of the home, and to take "appropriate action" within the context of each case. The Regulation sets out a specific process for the investigation of complaints relating to the care of residents.

To the extent that abuse or neglect complaints involve allegations against retirement home employees, it remains to be seen how the Zero Tolerance Policy and the investigation process set out under the Regulation will interact with progressive discipline policies and employees' rights under the applicable collective agreement.

The Act also provides wide-ranging whistle-blowing protection for staff and residents in the context of reporting abuse or neglect, and provides that staff may not be harassed, dismissed, suspended or disciplined for providing information regarding an incident. Contraventions to the whistle-blowing protection may be brought before an arbitrator under the collective agreement, or a complaint may be brought to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.


As noted above, the Act will require that retirement homes undertake a wide range of extensive training of staff in a number of areas, such as the protection of residents from abuse or neglect, the protection of residents from the inappropriate use of restraints, and residents' rights. In addition, as of July 2013, retirement homes will be required to provide extensive and on-going training to direct care staff as a condition of continuing to have contact with residents. Some of the training required for staff in those positions will include abuse recognition and prevention, mental health issues, behaviour management, and residents' use of personal assistance devices.


As is apparent from the extensive nature of some of the above-noted requirements, the regulatory framework imposed by the Act will likely have an impact on the terms and conditions of employment in retirement homes. The new resident care standards and staff policies imposed by the Act may be accepted by arbitrators and courts as new employer standards of care towards residents, and potentially, staff. It also remains to be seen whether, and to what extent, courts and arbitrators take into consideration the new requirements, policies and standards in individual determinations relating to staff discipline and just cause dismissals.

Adjudicators will also likely need to determine how the standards and policies put into place by the Act will interact with existing provisions of applicable collective agreements. While it is likely that employers will be able to rely on Management Rights provisions to place new hiring requirements, administer necessary training, augment job descriptions and alter workplace policies, some of these changes will likely also trigger some other collective agreement terms.


Thus far in the retirement home sector, collective agreements have been negotiated individually, or in small groups. As such, retirement home collective agreements have often differed widely from one another, particularly in wage rates and the types of employees performing work in the same classifications and in the same geographic areas. In contrast, the highly regulated nursing/long-term care home industry has been characterized by the centralized negotiation of agreements between up to 100 facilities, which have created precedents for almost all negotiations and collective agreements in that sector.

The new regulatory scheme in the retirement homes sector may impact the way that collective agreements are negotiated in the sector. As noted earlier, the Act's imposition of a uniform set of policies and requirements on retirement homes in a number of areas will likely mean that retirement homes across the province will find themselves facing similar labour and employment issues. As such, retirement homes may well find that they are better served by the centralized collective bargaining process that currently exists in the long-term care industry.

About BLG

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.