You are here
The many shades of caregiving
As the baby boomer generation inches closer to retirement age, elder care has become a pressing issue for Canada’s health care system. In 2011, more than 3.4 million Canadians provided care to an older person; an estimated 1.2 million older Canadians make use of formal home care services annually. Informal caregivers make a significant contribution to individuals and communities and many bear economic and non-economic costs and burdens related to caregiving. An Institute for Research on Public Policy study suggests the market value of the contribution of Canada’s informal caregivers was between $24 and $31 billion in 2007, accounting for 1.6 to 2 percent of Canada’s GDP.
Looking at the percentage of formal, informal and mixed sources of assistance for older Canadians, by activity, the study found that certain tasks — such as banking and bill paying, grocery shopping and transportation — are addressed through informal support. Only 11 percent or less of activities are addressed through formal support. Researchers concluded that to ensure adequate home care services to seniors in coming years, Canadian governments will have to better support informal caregivers and adopt a comprehensive human resources strategy.
Keefe, Janice M. 2011. Supporting Caregivers and Caregiving in an Aging Canada. IRPP Study 23. Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy.