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Letter: Home care is the solution to long-term care crisis, says CARP

Association expresses concerns over Safe Restart Plan
home care hand holding

Editor’s note: On Sept,. 18, the Canadian Association of Retired Persons followed up a previous letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a second urgent plea for home and community care to be a central part of Canada’s Safe Restart Plan.

On behalf of our 320,000 CARP members, I want to thank you for the video message you recorded as part of our National Seniors Day online event, scheduled for Oct. 1. 

We appreciate your time and good wishes, and were particularly gratified to hear you say that your government was working “to strengthen long-term, home and palliative services across the country,” and that “we can’t and we won’t let the tragedies that occurred, happen again.”

It is precisely because of these intentions, which we heartily endorse, that we write you again to express our concern that in the Safe Restart Plan you have just announced, home care appears to be absent.

We agree that your government must revive the economy. To that end, your officials have proffered childcare as a way to liberate working parents, especially mothers, to re-enter the workforce. Children, however, are not the only recipients of care by working mothers and fathers. Many are responsible for most of the care of their own elderly parents or grandparents.

The prodigious efforts of this group must be recognized and harnessed as a vital component of any strategy to deal with both long-term care, and the return of caregivers to the economy. While it is hugely important to reform long-term care institutions, ultimately we believe home care is the solution to long-term care.

The proven facts are dramatic:

  • Over eight million Canadians provide informal care to a loved one;
  • Over one million caregivers over the age of 45 are caring for both a parent and a child;
  • Family caregivers provide more than 80 per cent of the care given to seniors in their homes, and 30% of services provided within institutions;
  • These caregivers save the Canadian health-care system a staggering $24 to $31 billion a year

As it stands today, many caregivers must juggle job and caregiving responsibilities. Almost half report missing days of work (and the resulting pay) and being unable to accept promotions, due to the stress of their caregiving responsibilities.

In 2015, the Vanier Institute reported that every year, Canada loses the equivalent of nearly 558,000 full-time employees from the workforce, because of inability to handle the conflicting demands of employment and caregiving.

In summary, this letter is CARP’s urgent reminder that long-term care, and home and community care are just as important as childcare if parents are to go back to work knowing that their own parents, as well as their children, are being well looked after.

Bill VanGorder, Chief Policy Officer, CARP – A New Vision of Aging for Canada