How to start a seniors' care business in Ontario

Table of contents

Getting started
Other resources


Seniors are one of the fastest growing population groups in Canada and the demand for senior care services is rising.

Examples of services that may be provided to seniors are:

  • Meal preparation
  • Assisted daily living (such as ambulatory care or bathing)
  • Laundry
  • Entertainment

The most common types of personal care facilities for seniors include:

  • Retirement homes
    Privately-owned accommodations for seniors who are able to manage and pay for their own care. Retirement home clients generally need minimal support with daily living activities.

  • Supportive housing
    Designed for people who need minimal to moderate care - for example housekeeping or personal care - to live independently.

  • Long-term care homes
    Designed for people who require the availability of 24-hour nursing care and supervision in a secure setting.

Getting started

Getting started

When you start a business there are several things to consider before you can sell your product or service. Most businesses in Ontario need to complete a minimum of three basic steps:

  • Find out what licences and regulations apply to your type of business
  • Choose a business structure and register or incorporate your business
  • Determine if you will need to collect and remit HST

Our Starting a business guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.

Read online:
Starting a business



Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.

In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use BizPaL to find licences and regulations that may affect your business.

Use online:
Permits and licences search

Licences, permits and regulations that apply to starting a senior care facility include:

Retirement home licensing

In Ontario, you must obtain a licence for your seniors personal care business from the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA), and make sure that you comply with their rules and requirements.

Contact the RHRA:
1-855-275-7472 (ASK-RHRA)
Applying for a Licence

Long-term care home licensing

To operate a long-term care home (sometimes called a nursing home) you need approval and licensing from the Ministry of Long-term Care. The requirements and standards you need to meet for each long-term care bed you plan to have or upgrade are available on their website along with the applications. Contact the Ministry directly for more information.

Contact the Ministry of Long-Term Care:
Apply to build new or redevelop existing long-term care beds 

Landlord and tenant rights

Ensure that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, including rent increase guidelines.

Contact the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing:
Renting in Ontario: Your rights

Personal information protection

If you gather personal information from your clients, make sure that you are following the rules of collection, use and disclosure of personal information in Canada.

Contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada:
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada - For businesses

Health information protection

In Ontario, when you gather health information from your residents and clients, make sure that you follow the rules of collection, use and disclosure of that information.

Contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario:
1-800-387-0073 (within Ontario)
Guidance published by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner

Note: if you do not plan to offer services in a personal care facility setting or physical space controlled by your business you are still responsible for ensuring that the services you provide meet legal and regulatory requirements. Some services require certification, licensing and inspections or need to meet certain set standards including:

  • Prepared food services
  • Nursing support
  • In-home and telehealth medical consultations
  • Medical testing
  • Social and mental health counselling
  • Handling personal and health data

Legal questions

Legal questions

You can contact Pro Bono Ontario’s free legal advice hotline to enquire about getting help with your everyday civil legal needs (no family law, immigration or criminal law). The service is generally aimed at those who cannot afford a lawyer.

Note that service is not guaranteed and you will be asked questions as part of the qualifying process, such as the amount of personal income earned by your household, your name, postal code and age range.

Contact Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline:

Read online:
Pro Bono Ontario - Free Legal Advice Hotline


You can also contact the Law Society of Ontario's Law Society Referral Service if you have legal questions of a business nature. The service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.

Use online:
Law Society Referral Service



Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.

Read online:
Taxation guide

If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12-month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.

Contact CRA:
Canada Revenue Agency



Grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees are available from various government sources. Use Innovation Canada’s online search tool to look for programs and services that may apply to your business.

Search online:
Business Benefits Finder

Other resources

Industry-specific information