Operating a residential care facility

Caring for others is a complex job with a lot of responsibilities. If you are thinking about starting a residential care facility there are many things to consider. For example, you will want to consider what type of business structure (corporation, sole proprietorship, etc.) you would like to establish, whether you will need to buy property and build a new building or whether there is an existing building that may meet the requirements.

Your local health authority Community Care Facility Licensing program can answer questions and help get you started. They provide application packages and often hold information sessions about opening a licensed care facility. Please talk with your local health authority Licensing Officer before making any financial or other commitments.

Find out how to apply for a licence by visiting your local Health Authority Community Care Facility Licensing website:

In addition to contacting your local Health Authority Community Care Facility Licensing program you should also contact your local city/town municipality to ask about a business licence, zoning bylaws, and fire inspections.

Application process

The application requirements are set out in schedule B of the Residential Care Regulation. The Regulation outlines the application process and describes basic health, safety and care requirements, but does not cover any local municipality requirements such as a business licence and zoning.

Application requirements include:

  • A detailed description of the care program
  • The proposed number of employees, their qualifications and duties
  • The building and lot site plan
  • The building floor plan
  • Projected monthly revenues and expenditures
  • References and criminal record checks

The application process will include an inspection of the physical premises, a review of the proposed policies and procedures, and an assessment of suitability for the proposed manager. There is no cost for the licensing process and receiving a licence. However, there may be some other associated costs, such as cost recovery for information packages, criminal record checks, first aid certification, business licence etc.

The province has provided interim guidance to assist operators in providing meals and snacks to residents that are consistent with Canada's Food Guide

Each Health Authority Community Care Facility Licensing program processes applications and issues licences.

Ongoing requirements

Once you have a licence you need to follow the rules in order to keep the licence in good standing. Following the rules is an ongoing activity that begins with understanding the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, the Residential Care Regulation and Standards of Practice. You must follow the rules and requirements. You should work with your Licensing Officer to make sure you understand what is expected.

Licensing Officers carry out licensing activities on behalf of the medical health officer. They conduct facility inspections and respond to complaints. Each facility is unique and is monitored and assessed on an individual basis. Through inspection, discussion and risk analysis of the facility's plans and programs the Licensing Officer assesses whether the needs of the person in care and requirements are being met.

Licensing Officers are available to discuss issues, make site visits, provide education and help licensees understand what needs to be done and why.