Canadians Support Financial Assistance for Unpaid Caregivers: Survey

wheelchair“Home, community, and long-term care are crucial elements of the sustainability of health care in Canada, especially as the population ages and chronic conditions become more prevalent,” says the Conference Board of Canada, who commissioned EKOS Research Associates to learn more from Canadians about their experiences with and perceptions about home, community, and residential care.

Over 4,000 Canadians were surveyed for “a snapshot of senior care in Canada from the perspective of recipients, caregivers, and family members.” A report from the survey results aims to identify the strengths within the current systems and areas for improvement.

“Canadians who provide unpaid care to family are under pressure to balance employment with their caregiving responsibilities,” said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Public Policy. “The results from this survey show that Canadians say that governments should provide financial compensation for those who have to reduce their work hours. Providing caregivers with the support they need should be part of strategies to care for Canada’s growing senior population.”

Highlights

  • Sixty per cent of Canadians surveyed said that governments should provide financial assistance to those who have to reduce work hours or leave the workforce to care for seniors.
  • No province or territory in Canada has mastered provision of senior care—all have strengths and weaknesses, and all can learn from each other.
  • “Unaffordable costs” is the number-one reason respondents with unmet needs gave for not receiving home and community care service.

When surveyed, 60 per cent of respondents agreed that governments should provide financial assistance to those who have to reduce work or leave the workforce altogether. In contrast, 28 per cent of respondents supported an obligatory private insurance plan; and 25 per cent said care should be provided by close relatives of the dependent person.

In addition to the results about supporting caregivers, other key findings from the report include:

  • No single province or territory in Canada has mastered senior care—all have strengths and weaknesses, and all can learn from each other.
  • Home and community care services are affordable for those who obtain them, but costs are a barrier to access. “Unaffordable costs” is the number-one reason respondents with unmet needs gave for not receiving service.
  • Transportation is the home and community care service most likely to require Canadians to incur out-of-pocket expenses, but transportation is also seen as one of the most affordable services.

By the numbers:

  • 2.2 million: How many Canadians received help from friends, friends, caregivers or professionals in 2012 because of long-term health problems
  • 5.3 million: Estimated number (in 2011) of Canadians who provided unpaid care
  • 15 per cent: How many did not receive all the care they required
  • 22-27 per cent: Proportion of home care costs paid by private sources
  • $5,448: Average reported annual out-of-pocket expenses for survey respondents who needed services

This briefing is part of a broader research program by the Conference Board’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC) on future care for seniors. The series takes a broader look at the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s seniors, as well as the services that respond to those needs.

More info: see Conference Board release.