Seniors living in private nursing homes are more likely to die within six months of their stay than those living in non-profit facilities, a group of researchers has found.

A recent study by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) found that for-profit seniors’ homes have a 16 per cent higher death rate for seniors within six months of arrival, and that there is a 33 per cent greater likelihood that they’ll end up in hospital.

"Those are not trivial numbers," said Dr. Peter Tanuseputro, a researcher behind the study. "If there’s a way that we can get to the bottom of this and correct it, we could potentially be preventing many, many hospitalizations and potentially many deaths."

The figures are particularly concerning for Ontario, where nearly 60 per cent of seniors’ facilities are privately run.

As Canada’s aging population grows and the demand for long-term care facilities rises, experts say the root cause behind the discrepancy needs to be addressed.

One researcher suggests it may have to do with the staff-to-senior ratio.

"A lot of the research finds that for-profit facilities actually hire fewer staff. One can’t help but ask [if that is] because more staff affects the bottom line," said Dr. Margaret McGregor, a family physician and researcher at the University of British Columbia.

She adds that, for seniors experiencing sub-standard care, finding a solution can be challenging.

"They can’t get up and leave and say, 'I’m going somewhere else,'" McGregor told CTV News. "It’s the welfare of … the frailest members of our society."

The difference in numbers calls into question why both long-term care facilities receive the same subsidy from the provincial government, and how both must meet the same guidelines for care.

But comparisons made between the two types of facilities is unfair, according to the agency that represents both private and not-for profit homes in Ontario.

"Even though we’re getting sicker and more frail elderly (people) coming into our homes, the quality indicators show that we’re stabilizing and improving in areas," said Candace Chartier, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association.

Do you have a loved one who's been taken to hospital or experienced any other problems within six months of admission into a nursing home? Share your story with us at

With a report by CTV Medical Specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip.