Caregivers need employer support

More than six million Canadians—35% of the Canadian workforce—is providing informal care to a family member or friend, and employers should do more to support them, says a report from the Employer Panel for Caregivers.

Most employee caregivers spend nine hours or less per week caring, but many (24%) are spending up to 30 hours—and some even more. The recipients of care are primarily seniors, and most caregivers are 45 and older.

“The Conference Board of Canada estimates the annual cost of lost productivity to be $1.3 billion to Canadian employers,” states the report. “Costs to the caregivers in terms of stress and career advancement can also be significant, particularly for women at critical points in their careers.”

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The majority (74%) of caregivers provide nine or less hours of care per week. However, 16% provided 10 to 29 hours of care, while 10% provided a very intensive level of 30 hours or more. Not surprisingly, the more care a person provides, the greater impact it has on his or her ability to work.

Thirty-eight percent of caregivers who provided 20 or more hours of care per week reduced their regular working hours, compared with 25% of those who were providing less than 20 hours. Informal caregivers are also a diverse group.

The report also finds the following:

  • men are almost as likely as women (46% versus 54%) to be caregivers;
  • women are more likely (65% versus 35%) to provide 20 or more hours of care per week;
  • 44% of caregivers are ages 45 to 64, “sandwiched” between caregiving and child rearing;
  • 25- to 44-year-olds account for 28% of caregivers; 15- to 24-year-olds account for 15%; and
  • one million caregivers were older than 65 themselves—a trend that will increase and likely include more non-retirees.
  • “Canada’s aging population means that these pressures and their consequences will only increase,” states the report. “By 2031, the number of people over the age of 80 requiring care is projected to double. At the same time, older workers will account for an increasing share of the Canadian workforce.”

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