“I encourage all of our members to complete this survey and help build the data needed to ensure that our governments, policy makers and employers cannot look the other way on the challenges faced by employed caregivers!” — James Clancy, NUPGE National President
Ottawa (03 Dec. 2015) — The issue of elder care received next to no attention during the 2015 federal election. This is alarming as the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population is older Canadians (people 85 and older), most of whom are women. In 1900, the average life expectancy was 47 years of age; by 2000 that had increased to 76 years of age. The end result is the expansion of our population of older adults. This, coupled with the much lower birth rates means that there are fewer family caregivers to go around.
Elder care by family costing Canadians
Increasingly, policy makers are attempting to reduce the crisis in health care due to an aging population by encouraging family members to care for the elderly at home. It is estimated that in Canada the care provided for free by family members would cost the health care system close to a $6 billion a year.
However, there is a personal cost to those providing care in higher stress levels, increased financial strain and health issues. And these are even greater for those that are part of the “sandwich generation” (have children living at home and also providing care to an elderly relative). The other factor that compounds the strains on caregivers is the reality that an estimated 75 per cent of caregivers are in the workforce.
National survey to provide more research on impact of combining paid work with caregiving
There is very little research on the effects of those combining paid work, child care and elder care. In response to this need, the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) has undertaken an extensive research project on the issue. Dr. Linda Duxbury is part of a team that is conducting a National Survey on Balancing Work, Family and Caregiving.
Dr. Duxbury, a professor at Carleton University, is a Canadian expert in work/life balance. Speaking at a recent meeting of the National Union’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues (ACWI), she stressed that in Canada, 80 per cent of caregiving is done by family members. The current health policy is to return patients home as soon as possible. At the same time, services within communities are being reduced or completely eliminated. The resulting stresses for working caregivers are not being paid attention to by policy makers or employers.
These statistics will provide clear evidence of the elder care crisis
“It is easy for governments to side step an issue if there are no concrete statistics to prove there is in fact a crisis. That is why it is vital to obtain these statistics as a first step to moving the issue forward and making governments, policy makers and employers realize that the need for elder care in Canada is critical,” states James Clancy, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees.
“I encourage all of our members to complete this survey and help build the data needed to ensure that our governments, policy makers and employers cannot look the other way on the challenges faced by employed caregivers!”
The survey is targeted to individuals (male and female) who are providing ongoing care and assistance, without pay, to family members who need support due to physical, cognitive and/or mental problems related to aging. The survey is restricted to those caregivers that are employed. The survey has six sections and takes approximately 45–60 minutes to complete. All survey responses are anonymous and confidential. The researchers have agreed to share the key findings from our members with NUPGE. Please participate and share this survey within your Components.
More information on the research project can be found here.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE