government spending

Times are changing for our seniors and some of the changes aren’t very good. Long-term care in Canada and especially in Ontario falls under different rules. For seniors in Ontario, you are only eligible for long-term care if you are considered to have high or very high care needs. This has come about because of Ontario’s aging-in-place strategy which makes more funding available for senior care at home. Since seniors are staying at home longer they are entering long term care homes when they are in need of much more medical and personal care.

Below you will find some interesting numbers on how tax dollars were spent.

Projections show the number of seniors age 65 and older will rise by 25% by 2036. The number of seniors 80 and over will double between 2011 and 2036. It also shows that  seniors who are entering long-term care suffer from multiple chronic conditions. This includes 87% of residents who are affected by Alzheimer’s or other dementias. This number is expected to double by 2031.

Did you know that Ontario provincial funding for long-term care last year was approximately $142.47 per resident, per day ($52,000 per year)? *

The total is $4.07 billion (only 7.9% of the overall provincial health budget).

In comparison, as of 2014 each prisoner in Canada’s 54 federal penitentiaries cost the taxpayers almost $118,000.

That means about 44% more funding for inmates!!

Canada’s worst criminals are the most expensive to house, costing taxpayers up to $151,000 a year. As of April 14, 2013, 579 women were incarcerated in federal prisons at an annual cost of $211,618 each.

Incarceration by the numbers

  • $117,788 – average annual cost of a prisoner in a penitentiary in 2011-2012
  • $151,484 – annual cost of a prisoner in maximum security
  • $104 889 – annual cost of a prisoner in medium security
  • $91,959 – annual cost of a prisoner in minimum security
  • 7,695 – number of corrections officers in federal prisons
  • $78.76 – amount paid per Canadian, per year, to fund the federal prison system

Number of inmates in federal penitentiaries:

As of April 14, 2013: 14,745

Things in the US are much the same as in Canada. If you are a senior with no family and little money there are few options if you need assistance with living. Quality of life within retirement and assisted living homes varies from facility to facility. You may have great caregivers who look after your daily need. Or you may end up in a facility where the main objective is profit for the owners and those who work there.

However, prison is more or less free. It also provides a good supply of food, a high level of healthcare and comes with quite a few perks. Free education, the use of computers, a library, television, gym, medical support to name a few.

Prison can be big business in the US as large companies also invest in private prisons while states spend more than $71 billion on prisons annually. The food allowance in correctional facilities is $11 to $12 per inmate per day. In the meantime, on June 30, 2012, the daily payment to long term care facilities dropped to its former level, $7.33.

That means approximately $4-$5 more a day given to each prison inmate verses seniors on food!!

The overall picture at this time shows that more financing needs to be available for seniors in long term care. Preferably before they reach the stage where the cost per person is so expensive.

At home care needs to be more in depth with considerations to help ward off deterioration because of age or disease.

What are your thoughts on this?

We have only talked about the financial spend on inmates verses seniors. If you want to read about the difference in what is offered to inmates verses residents in some facilities, read it here.


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  1. Great article Chris, thank you for raising what I feel is an important and relative topic. I am all for treating everyone with respect, and both groups warrant our support. While I realize there is more depth to this situation, such as part of the inmate cost is keeping them away from our general society. There seems to be an injustice.

    Individuals who have followed the rules, contributed to society in a positive way, paid taxes, volunteered voluntarily are supported with less (a lot less in many cases), than those who at times took away from and cost society.

    I’d like to see some active feedback, there must be some creative ways to re-adjust this seeming out of balance equation.

  2. I couldn’t agree more, the systems have to totally flip flop. Most people do not even realize that while incarcerated inmates actually get paid everyday they are in there without having to do anything for it, and it is the seniors tax dollars they paid their entire life that pays the guilty usually non tax paying criminal. Furthermore most prisoners are low level risk to society and are capable of being on work crews to actually contribute back to society and save people some tax dollars by government jobs that could be done, for that matter jails could have business like garage, prefab homes etc to actually generate money to help pay for their prisoners and then the tax dollars can be spent on the law abiding seniors for their needed care!


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