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Only one CHIP to count: the reverse mortgage monopoly in Canada

In Canada, homeownership among seniors is high, and approximately 80% of seniors wish to remain in their home for as long as possible, even if their health declines. The desire to remain in one’s home, despite deteriorating health or home conditions is commonly referred to as ‘aging in place’ (AIP). The underlying theory of AIP is that it contributes to the health and well-being of seniors. This theory is grounded in the fact that home-dwelling seniors often have better physical and psychological outcomes than those that in an institutional setting. Encouraging seniors to remain in their homes as long as possible increases the quality of life for seniors as well as presents concrete benefits for provincial governments: delayed institutionalization of seniors which equates to important health-care savings. The choice to remain in one’s home can impose significant costs on seniors; home modifications and home health care services are essential to AIP but their high cost is a barrier to usage. Home-owning seniors have a significant source of wealth that can ease the financial burden of AIP – the equity in their homes; however, this asset is not accessible without selling the home and relocating. This study investigates one solution to unlocking the equity in homes: reverse mortgages. Key findings in the study will inform the development and recommendation of policy options to strengthen the provision and use of reverse mortgages in Canada.
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