• One in four Canadians is a caregiver; one in two will become one.
  • Caregivers spend 5.7 billion hours caring for people in their lives (4.2% of GDP) valued at$97.1B annually.
  • $1.3B is lost in productivity per year. This is equivalent to over half a million employees dropping out of the labour force.
  • More than 7.8 million Canadians over the age of 15 provide approximately 20 hours a week of unpaid care.         
  • Only 50 per cent of care providers remain in the sector for more than five years, often citing burnout due to staffing challenges as key reason to leave.

Toronto, Ontario – November 7, 2022 – If all caregivers took a week off, every Canadian would experience the collapse of our care systems before noon on the first day.

This claim is one of many from a white paper released today by the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence (CCCE) entitled Giving Care: An Approach to a Better Caregiving Landscape in Canada. The report sounds the alarm on the urgent need to deliver a public policy response to close gaps that jeopardize the mental, physical and economic wellbeing of caregivers, care providers and those in need of care.

Giving Care is the first in a series of actions planned by CCCE to rally support for policy creation to establish a coordinated approach to caregiving. Over the course of the coming year, CCCE intends to convene stakeholders across the country and host a national caregiving summit. This will lead to the development of a national caregiver strategy created in collaboration with organizational partners and people with lived experience from coast to coast to coast.

We are in the midst of a caregiving crisis — yet caregiving remains largely invisible in public policy across the country. CCCE is urging federal and provincial governments to take immediate action to improve outcomes and ensure a strong caregiving ecosystem for the future.

The cost of allowing Canada’s caregiving systems to fail is the well-being, and even the lives of care recipients, care providers and caregivers. Research has shown worsened symptoms and poorer outcomes in care recipients when their caregiver is in distress.

 Several problems require fixing:

  • Current supports for caregivers do not meet their needs;
  • Services for caregivers and care recipients are insufficient and fragmented;
  • Leaves of absence and protections for employed caregivers are inadequate; and
  • Financial supports are insufficient and ineffectively designed.

“Almost all of us will be a caregiver or need a caregiver at some point in our lives. We need to make caregiving the next frontier of public policy in Canada,” says Liv Mendelsohn, Executive Director of CCCE. “The Giving Care white paper confirms that policy action is the only viable solution to close the gaps that are leaving caregivers, care providers and care recipients in dire circumstances. The crisis is here, and support is needed now.”

“As a caregiver myself, I understand the weight of responsibility of caring for a loved one, as does everyone in my family,” says Naomi Azrieli, O.C., Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation, which established CCCE to help caregivers and care providers. “Government action is essential to provide concrete support and protections. Canada can be the best place in the world to provide care, but we need action now to make that a reality.”

Who are the caregivers?

Unpaid caregivers (typically a family and friends) and paid care providers (personal and developmental support workers), comprise the largest portion of Canada’s healthcare and social support system. They provide approximately three hours of care for every hour provided through the rest of the healthcare system. This is equivalent to the work of 2.8 million full-time paid care providers, saving billions in healthcare resources every year. Our aging population and the strain caused by COVID-19’s pull on the health and social services system have led to a significant shortage of paid care providers. This workforce is largely made up of racialized and newcomer women who are struggling to get ahead, often holding down multiple jobs but barely making ends meet.

“Being a caregiver has meant fighting for my son’s access to health care and a life that he values,” says Donna Thomson, family caregiver and author. “When he was born, I never imagined I would be providing 24/7 nursing care in our son’s “home ICU” for 23 years. I never imagined how hard I would have to fight to secure even a little bit of help. My caregiving responsibilities have meant that I could not work outside of the home or contribute to a pension. Caregivers across Canada put their lives on hold to care and we miss out on benefits that other working people take for granted. We need to better ensure those who care are cared for too.”

“Caregivers across Canada put their lives on hold to care and we miss out on benefits that other working people take for granted. We need to better ensure those who care are cared for too.”

– Donna Thomson, family caregiver and author

About The White Paper

CCCE conducted research and engaged with stakeholders across the country and drew on a literature review and a jurisdictional scan of the best public policy practices for supporting caregiving. The report is grounded in the lived experiences of people who provide care. Research included three focus group sessions with caregivers, care providers and sector leaders as well as three focus group sessions with stakeholders in the caregiving space. Leading experts in the caregiving field were consulted to provide input and critically review the paper.

About CCCE

The Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence (CCCE) was established by the Azrieli Foundation, Canada’s largest non-corporate charitable foundation that has a long and personal history supporting disability-focused organizations. The CCCE’s mission is to support caregivers and care providers and advocate for the needs of those who provide care. They advocate for policies that make a difference, translating knowledge into practice, scaling what works and filling gaps through innovation.

To read and share the white paper and receive regular updates on the National Caregiver Strategy initiative, please visit caregivingcanada.org and follow CCCE on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Media contact

Olivia Olesinski
Communications Manager
Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence
[email protected]