The Care Economy Data Room: Eldercare

Posted on November 12, 2021 in Child & Family Policy Context

Source: — Authors: – Our News & Data
Third Edition, November 8, 2021

The recent federal election featured vigorous debate about the future of early learning and childcare but surprisingly little about politicians’ plans to ensure other forms of high-quality care are available, or how to make all essential jobs good jobs. Here are 10 issues likely to shape the future of eldercare.

  1. There are currently 7.1 million people aged 65 and older in Canada. That’s 18.5% of the population, up from 12.6% in 2001. If immigration and birth rates don’t change, nearly one in four Canadians will be aged 65+ by 2030.
  1. Canada spends roughly 1.2% of GDP on eldercare. The OECD average is 1.7% of GDP.
  2. Nine out of ten older Canadians live at home. While care needs increase with age, even among those aged 85 and older, only 32 per cent live in residential care.
  3. There are currently 38,500 people in Ontario on waiting lists for long term care, with waits as long as 5 years. B.C. waitlists rose 27% in 2019. Alberta faces a 61% increase in wait times.
  4. Over 75% of the financing for long-term residential care comes from the public purse (roughly $22 billion in 2019). 13% of public funding goes to home-based care and supports.
  1. There are only 2,076 long term care facilities in Canada. 29% are private for-profit, with a growing market share since 2014, and the highest shares in Ontario, PEI, Nova Scotia, and BC. In 2019, their average profit was 10.4%.
  2. By February 2021, residents of nursing homes accounted for 70% of COVID-19 cases, and 24,000 long-term care workers had contracted the virus. Most of these deaths took place in chain-owned for-profit facilities.
  3. Long-standing understaffing and high-turnover human resource practices worsened during the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, half of personal care workers in Ontario stayed fewer than 5 years, 43% citing burnout. There is also a 19% ($11 an hour) wage gap between workers in home care and in the hospital sector in Ontario, with similar differences across Canada. The staffing crisis became so critical that the Canadian Armed Forces deployed 1,504 members in Quebec and 285 staff in Ontario in spring 2020. The military helped Saskatchewan three times, Manitoba in fall 2020 and Alberta by fall 2021.
  4. Ontario announced plans to provide a minimum 4 hours of care for long-term care residents by 2024-25 (up from 2 hours and 45 minutes) starting by hiring 4,050 more workers this year. Quebec is training 10,000 care workers, Ontario 6,000, and the federal government another 4,000. In spring 2021, Personal Care Workers averaged $22.69/hour in long term care facilities, and $17.30/hour in home care. About 90% of these workers are women, and 41% are racialized. Increasingly, migrant workers provide long-term care internationally. In Canada, up to 50% of long term care workers are migrant workers in some provinces.
  5. Meanwhile about 3 million Canadians rely on unpaid, informal care – 39% rely exclusively on informal care – most of which is provided by women. If current trends continue, by 2050 it is estimated there will be roughly 30% fewer family members to provide unpaid care.

The next edition of The Care Economy Data Room will deal with the crisis in and future of health care. The previous edition dealt with these issues in early learning and childcare. The Care Economy is a combination of the health/social assistance and education industries. Foundational to the economy, it accounted for 12.75% of GDP and 21.1% of all jobs in July 2021.

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