What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a term for a type of housing that provides additional supports and assistance to adults. The additional services are typically a package of services including some or all meals, 24 hour emergency response, housekeeping, with personal care and help with medications if needed. Assisted living may be run on a for-profit or not for profit basis. In most Canadian jurisdictions, they are private pay and not publicly funded.

In many jurisdictions in terms of services, assisted living facilities lie between independent rental housing and licensed skilled nursing facilities.

In general, assisted living facilities have less professional staff and fewer regulatory requirements than do licensed nursing homes. However there is considerable variation across Canada.

Some provinces, until very recently have had few if any standards for these facilities. Other provinces treat these as similar to licensed skilled nursing facilities, with similar standards and oversight.

British Columbia is the only province to specifically use the term "assisted living" for certain registered facilities.  Below are some very rough equivalents in other jurisdictions.

Province Term


Personal care homes


Special care homes


Retirement communities/ retirement homes

Newfoundland and Labrador

Residential facilities


Supportive living


Résidences privées pour personnes âgées

New Brunswick

Special care homes and community residences

Prince Edward Island

Community care facilities

Nova Scotia

Assisted living/ enriched living



 Canadian Standards


Other Publications on Assisted Living

Spencer, C. (2003) Assisted  Living Consultation Response

A Way Forward: Promising Approaches to Abuse Prevention in Institutional Settings

This national project includes a "National Snapshot" of key issues in a wide range of facilities that provide care and support.

It also describes laws and regulations in each province and territory on various types of assisted living and care homes.


(2005) Searchable Database of Supportive Housing for Seniors in Canada Final Report


Other Resources

United States

 Center for Medicare Advocacy:  Policy Principles for  Assisted Living