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Family Caregivers Contribute $25 billion in Unpaid Labor to the Health Care System

Author: Canadian Caregiver Coalition

Published: 2009-04-14

Synopsis and Key Points:

The imputed economic contribution to the Canadian healthcare system of middle-aged and older unpaid caregivers providing care to the elderly.

Main Digest

The imputed economic contribution to the Canadian healthcare system of middle-aged and older unpaid caregivers providing care to the elderly provides astounding information as to the costs of unpaid care provided by Canadians to elderly family members and friends with long-term health problems.

Today's report - Who Cares and How Much

The imputed economic contribution to the Canadian healthcare system of middle-aged and older unpaid caregivers providing care to the elderly, released by Marcus J. Hollander, Guiping Liu and Neena L. Chappell, provides astounding information as to the costs of unpaid care provided by Canadians to elderly family members and friends with long-term health problems. To date information on the nature of the tasks unpaid caregivers perform, and the amounts of time they spend on these tasks was often unclear leaving the contribution of unpaid caregivers to be largely unknown and grossly underestimated.

Family caregivers provide care and assistance for spouses, children, parents and other extended family members who are in need of support because of age, disabling medical conditions, chronic injury, long term illness or disability. The study released today suggests that the imputed costs of replacing the unpaid care provided by Canadians to the elderly would be $25-26 billion annually. (Imputed costs refer to costs that would be incurred if the care provided by an unpaid caregiver was, instead, provided by a paid caregiver, on a direct hour-for-hour substitution basis.)

"Family caregivers are the invisible backbone of the health and long term care system. We have seen from the front lines that without family caregivers, the formal healthcare will not be able cope", said Nadine Henningsen, President of the Canadian Caregivers Coalition and Executive Director of the Canadian Home Care Association.

The Canadian Caregiver Coalition believes that governments, the public and private sector organizations need to support a Canadian Caregiving Strategy which includes:

Safeguarding the health and wellbeing of family caregivers and increasing the flexibility and availability of respite care

Minimizing excessive financial burden placed on family caregivers

Enabling access to user friendly information and education

Creating flexible workplace environments that respect caregiving obligations

Investing in research on family caregiving as a foundation for evidence-informed decision making

The CCC calls on the Federal Government to take a leadership role by enriching the existing caregiver tax credits; and immediately announcing the creation of an advisory panel to determine effective and meaningful ways for assisting the growing population of caregivers in Canada.

About the Canadian Caregiver Coalition

The Canadian Caregiver Coalition is a diverse group of national and provincial organizations from across Canada that work collaboratively to represent and promote the needs and interests of family caregivers with all levels of government, and the community. The vision of the Canadian Caregivers Coalition is a Canada that recognizes and respects the integral role of family caregivers in society, and supports this role with the understanding that it is not a substitute for public responsibility in health and social care.

For further information: Nadine Henningsen, President, Canadian Caregiver Coalition & Executive Director, Canadian Home Care Association, (613) 569-1585, www.ccc-ccan.ca

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