January 12, 2022—CARP uncovers the pressing need for family caregiver supports through a cross-Canadian survey in partnership with Sun Life. The findings highlight the predicaments faced by unpaid caregivers and the gaps that should be filled by government and employers to mitigate personal, societal and economic cost.
Sun Life and CARP teamed up to better understand the experience of caregivers, surveying over 2000 individuals, with 900 respondents self-identifying as caregivers.
Over 75% of caregivers find it challenging to care for their own mental and physical health. They also highlight the predicament of trying to manage caregiving and employment. Women are disproportionately impacted as caregivers, performing the role most often, most likely to have complex caregiving responsibilities and most likely to have left employment as a result of caregiving.
Nearly half of Canadians provide unpaid care in their lifetime. Most of this voluntary caregiving relates to aging and care for seniors, which will only increase as the Canadian population continues to age.
This unpaid labour estimated at $25 billion annually is being shouldered by millions of Canadians, over 1 million of whom are over age 65. Negative impacts on caregivers have costs that extend beyond the personal level, impacting employers, the health care system and beyond.
The full report, Supporting the Supporters: Unpaid caregivers in Canada provides recommendations for employers and the government related to virtual health care, help finding existing resources, public policy changes, workplace practices and benefits plan coverage.
“The demands of caregiving mean that many caregivers are challenged to look after their own health. It’s not surprising that eight in ten see virtual care as valuable to supporting their health. By providing 24/7 access to physical and mental healthcare, right from the comfort of their homes, virtual care is ideally suited to support them.” Says Marie-Chantal Côté, Vice President Market Development, Sun Life Group Benefits.
CARP’s current advocacy on behalf of caregivers includes advocating for a refundable caregiver tax credit, tax-deductable homecare expenses, and national homecare standards and sustainable funding that would allow Canadians to age at home for as long as possible without increased burden to caregivers.