What Do I Need to Know about Home and Community Care in Canada?

When it comes to keeping vulnerable seniors safe, there’s no place like home.

96% of CARP members tell us they want to age in place, and nearly a quarter have admitted to supplementing publicly funded home care with private alternatives.

CARP is urging governments to recognize that home care and community-based care solutions are critical to resolving the long-term care crisis.

Compared to other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Canada spends significantly less of its long-term care spending on home and community care vs. nursing home care, ensuring the status quo remains unchallenged

As well, the cost to government in funding home and community care is markedly less than the alternatives.

Long-term care funding allocation

% spent on residential care (nursing homes) % spent on home & community care
Canada 87 13
OECD country average 65 35
Denmark 36 64


Home care services are not publicly insured through the Canada Health Act in the same way as inpatient hospital and physician services. In Canada, most home and community care services are delivered by provincial, territorial and some municipal governments. As well, for those who can afford it, there are a variety of private-owned and operated organizations (for-profit and not-for-profit) that provide a range of in-home services. The federal government’s funding support is  through transfer payments for health and social services.  Both the federal ministers of Health and Seniors have in their most recent mandate letters (January 2021) the task to take additional action to help seniors age in place and stay in their homes longer.

Even before COVID-19 hit, publicly-funded home care services were rigid, rationed and difficult to access. Across Canada and within provinces, there remain gross inequities in services, facilities, and standards of care.

As well, due to the high cost of private alternatives, the vast majority of home care needs in Canada could not be met without the fundamental support of unpaid family/friend caregivers, who, according to a recent University of Alberta study, deliver the health system an estimated $66 billion of care annually.

How is CARP Advocating?

A better funded and functioning home and community care system would enable Canadians to age at home with dignity and alleviate pressure on the long-term care system.

CARP is calling on governments to better support Canadians living in their homes for longer:

  • The federal government has committed funds for the provinces to respond to immediate needs, as well provided support for essential workers and training a greater number of support workers to address labor shortages.
  • The federal government’s financial support to provinces should come with strings attached: national standards to meet aging Canadians’ critical needs. While we recognize that the delivery of home and community care largely falls under provincial jurisdiction, the federal government can play a greater role in developing and implementing national standards for seniors who require care while aging at home. The standard and level of care we receive should not be determined by our postal code.
  • Increase support for front line home care, respite care, and day programs to enable aging in place;
  • Increase funding and use of technology-enabled home care solutions to better support individuals living safely and autonomously, and ensure tax breaks for home accessibility;
  • Attract qualified personnel to home and community care;
  • Expand tele-health care solutions to support patients and families, and maintain options for physicians to continue with remote consults via phone or video conference;
  • Ensure all caregivers have access to financial relief through the federal Family Caregiver Tax Credit by making it refundable or a rebate;
  • Ensure resources and services are sensitive to the particular challenges of vulnerable older populations such as racialized communities.

How Can I Get Involved?

There are many ways to get involved.  Find out more.