In Canada, many complex medical treatments are only accessible in major city centers where there is a concentration of medical specialists. While we are fortunate to have a universal health care system that covers treatment costs, there are tremendous costs outside of treatment that are often overlooked. This includes the costs of relocation and accommodation required in order to receive or be eligible for treatment.
It’s no secret that Toronto has very high rent costs and is currently experiencing a shortage in the rental housing market. The cost of rental housing creates severe financial strain to receiving life-saving treatments - a situation that no Canadian should find themselves in.
Most traditional leases signed with private landlords require a minimum term of one year. This makes it extremely difficult to find suitable rental housing that matches the treatment duration. Most rentals are also unfurnished, leaving patients and their families with the added costs of purchasing furniture and housewares.
Additionally, landlords often require proof of income, letters from employers, and other supporting information to ensure that the tenant is capable of paying rent. This eliminates any possibility of securing accommodation through traditional leases for patients in financial need.
Temporary housing companies do have more flexible lease agreements, are easy to book, and are furnished with basic furniture and housewares. However, the issue with temporary housing is the cost.
Furnished rentals in Toronto go for $4,000+ per month for one-bedroom and $5,000+ per month for two-bedroom units (the latter may be needed to accommodate a caregiver). Over the course of treatment, these costs become prohibitive.
While most provincial health care programs provide treatment at no cost, there is very little support when it comes to relocation costs. The province of Ontario provides only a $650 monthly stipend for accommodation costs; other provincial governments offer similar underfunded solutions.
Aside from navigating the housing challenge, most patients faced with having to relocate for treatment are also required to leave their jobs. This leaves patients and their families in a precarious financial situation, with many needing to sell their homes or other assets to afford the move. In some very unfortunate cases, treatment is not an option due to the insurmountable costs involved. Consequently, many patients are forced to run fundraising campaigns and seek assistance from their local community.
The medical procedure may be covered by OHIP, but the accommodations and living expenses make travelling to and staying in that city simply out of reach. Do you sell your home, quit your job, and hope your money lasts you through treatment and recovery?
StayWell is aiming to help solve this gap in the Canadian public health care system. Through the support of our donors and by leveraging furnished rental inventory in the corporate housing community through the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA), we provide partially or fully subsidized housing to patients who must relocate to Toronto.