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[CAREFUL!] Canadian caregivers at a breaking point

A white paper released November 7 by the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence (CCCE) sounds an 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.

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

CCCE notes:

• 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 labor force.

• More than 7.8 million Canadians over the age of 15 provide approximately 20 hours a week of unpaid care.

• There is a 25% shortage of paid care workers because the work is hard, wages are low and job security is minimal.

• Only 50% of care providers remain in the sector for more than five years, often citing burnout due to staffing challenges as key reason to leave.

Several problems require fixing, according to the white paper:

• 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.

"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."

To download the white paper, "Giving Care: An Approach to a Better Caregiving Landscape in Canada," click here

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