New research by Sustainable Care programme colleagues at the University of Alberta reveals the value of unpaid carers in Canada.

In an article in the Conversation, Professor Janet Fast and Jacquie Eales expand on some of the key messages from their research into the magnitude of hours which family members spend caring for loved ones (click here to go to the article).  The article was written to coincide with Family Day, which is observed in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick on the third Monday of February. This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities.

Using data from Statistics Canada’s most recent (2018) national survey on caregiving and care receiving, they found that unpaid carers spend 5.7 billion hours every year supporting family members in need of care, which equates to a cost of $97.1 Billion.

Further facts and figures have been presented in an infographic, available to download here (click).

Why these figures matter

  • Policymakers rely on GDP as a universal measure of a country’s social and economic performance and standard of living that guides their policy decisions. Yet, because GDP omits the value of unpaid care work, it is an incomplete measure leading to flawed public policy.
  • Family caregiving is often ignored because it is unpaid, undervalued, hidden in the privacy of homes and care facilities and done primarily by women.  If this type of care is continually ignored, the burden placed on families to provide care will increase and have a negative impact on their wellbeing.
  • Without the ongoing commitment and labour of family caregivers, the Canadian continuing care sector would collapse.

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