Estimated contribution made by unpaid caregivers in 2009 estimated at $25 billion dollars.

    See author list and contacts below

    Researchers call for:
    1.  a review of supports family members need to continue caring for their
        loved ones

    2.  adequate resources to ensure a reasonable balance between the roles
        of unpaid caregivers and paid health care providers

    TORONTO, April 14 /CNW/ - A study entitled "Who Cares, and How Much: The
Imputed Economic Contribution to the Canadian Health Care System of Middle
Aged and Older Unpaid Caregivers Providing Care to the Elderly" sheds
important new light on these topics and was published in the journal
Healthcare Quarterly today. The lead authors, Dr. Marcus Hollander a health
policy researcher and Neena Chappell of the University of Victoria note that
the findings in this study provide new and important information for policy
makers on the contribution made by unpaid caregivers. They note that a
conservative estimate of this contribution, for 2009, amounts to some $25
billion dollars, if one were to directly substitute paid care for the unpaid
care provided by family members and friends. They are, however, quick to point
out that while unpaid caregivers make a significant contribution to Canadian
society "they do so, by and large willingly." The authors note that while the
study points to the economic contribution of unpaid caregivers it would not be
appropriate to simply substitute paid care for unpaid care. Family members
generally prefer to provide care themselves, rather than have paid care
providers come into their homes and do it for them. Thus, it is noted that in
light of the contribution made by unpaid caregivers, governments may wish to
review the kinds of supports, such as respite care and additional home care
services, which would allow family members to have the support they need to
continue caring for their loved ones for as long as is both desirable and
feasible. It is also important to stress that adequate resources need to be
maintained in the formal or paid health care system to ensure a reasonable
balance between the role of unpaid caregivers and paid health care providers,
as the contribution of unpaid caregivers is already significant.
    The findings of the study are based on the 2002 General Social Survey and
the 2007 Labour Force Survey. Both surveys were conducted by Statistics
Canada. Cost data were projected to 2009 to provide up to date estimates.

    Additional background:

    Recently, the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada
presented the Caring Canadian Award to 37 volunteers from across Canada. These
volunteers were truly deserving of this honour. There is, however, another
group "the unsung of the unsung" who selflessly provide care day in and day
out to family members and friends. They are referred to as family caregivers
or unpaid caregivers. These dedicated individuals are often invisible and may
include your friends, family members or neighbours. They provide a range of
services such as meal preparation, feeding, shopping, banking, bathing,
toileting, and other such tasks, which allow seniors with longer term health
care needs to function independently, and avoid institutionalization. While
Canadians are aware of this type of unpaid caregiving, there is relatively
little information about what services are provided, to what extent, and what
contribution unpaid caregivers actually make to the Canadian health care


    From Tom Closson, President of the Ontario Hospital Association: "This
research demonstrates how fortunate we are in Canada to live in such a caring
society. Looking to the future, we need to clearly define the role government
should play in supporting families and their friends as they care for their
loved ones. "

    From Michael Decter, Chair of Saint Elizabeth Health Care: "Valuable and
fascinating research with real implications for home care and broader social


    About the Authors

    The lead authors of the paper can be contacted for comments as follows:

    Neena L. Chappell, PhD, FRSC, CRC
    Canada Research Chair, Social Gerontology
    Professor, Centre on Aging and Department of Sociology
    University of Victoria
    Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2 Canada
    Tel: (250) 472 - 4465 Fax: (250) 721 - 6499

    Marcus J. Hollander, PhD
    President, Hollander Analytical Services Ltd.
    Tel: (250) 384-2776

    About Healthcare Quarterly

    Healthcare Quarterly is a Canadian journal that focuses on best
practices, policy, innovation, and applied research, in the administration of
healthcare. Readers of the journal include governments, administrators,
academics, insurers, suppliers and policy analyst. Healthcare Quarterly is
edited by Dr. Peggy Leatt of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

For further information:

For further information: about the publication: Dianne Foster Kent,
Editorial Director, Tel: (416) 864-9667, E-mail:

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