In Canada, many complex medical treatments are only accessible in major city centers where there is a concentration of medical specialists. While Canadians are fortunate to have a universal health care system that covers the cost of treatment, there are other critical expenses that are often overlooked. This includes the costs of relocation and accommodation required in order to receive or be eligible for treatment.
With the cost of living and accommodation in large cities being considerably higher, this creates severe financial strain to receiving life-saving treatments - a situation that no Canadian should find themselves in.
Most traditional leases require a minimum term of one year, making it difficult to find suitable accommodations that match the treatment duration. Rentals also typically come unfurnished, leaving patients and their families with the added costs of purchasing furniture and housewares.
Additionally, landlords often require proof of income to ensure that the tenant is capable of paying rent, eliminating the option of securing accommodation through traditional leases for patients in financial need.
Rentals through temporary housing companies generally have more flexible lease agreements, are easy to book, and come furnished with basic furniture and housewares. However, the rental cost exceeds what most patients and their families can afford.
Furnished rentals in Toronto start at $4,000 per month for one-bedroom and $5,000 per month for two-bedroom units. Ultimately, these costs become prohibitive over the course of treatment.
While most provincial health care programs provide treatment at no cost, there is very little support when it comes to relocation expenses. The province of Ontario provides a $650 monthly stipend for accommodation, with other provincial governments offering similar underfunded solutions. This is enough to cover only four nights in a one-bed hotel suite - that's less than 14% of the monthly accommodation cost.
Aside from navigating the housing challenges, most patients facing medical relocation are also required to leave their jobs, putting them and their families in a precarious financial situation. Many needed to sell their homes or other assets to afford the move, while others are forced to run fundraisers and seek assistance from their local community. Thousands of Canadians have had to weigh the decision of receiving medical treatment, with the untenable financial burdens of relocating. In some very unfortunate cases, treatment is simply not an option given the insurmountable costs involved.
StayWell is on a mission to help solve the relocation cost gap in the Canadian public health care system. With support from our sponsors, donors, the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA) community, and participating hospital programs, we aim to provide patients and their families with comfortable, subsidized accommodations near their designated hospital, ultimately helping Canadians access the medical care they need.