Canada has a looming caregiver crising
| |

The Caregiver Squeeze: A Looming Crisis for Aging in Place

A survey by the National Institute on Ageing found that almost 100 per cent of people said they hope to age at home, as opposed to moving to a long-term care (LTC) facility. Read our recent blog “Team Up to Age in Place with Ease” to learn more about aging longer in your own home.

However, a perfect storm is on the horizon that could threaten accessibility of in-home care and the well being and independence of older adults. The most prevalent converging factors are:

  • An aging population who is living longer
  • Declining number of nurses and personal support workers (PSWs)
  • Governments investing more in long term care facilities than in-home support services

This article discusses the severity of caregiver shortages in Canada and its impact on aging in place.

The Caregiver Shortage Problem

According to the Minister of Finance, by 2046, the number of seniors in Ontario will double, representing 25% of the population. Will our healthcare system be ready to meet the demand?

Two indicators suggest it won’t:

  1. The increase in seniors is not being paired with an increase in caregivers
  2. The profession of caregiving is bursting at the seams in most provinces

1. The increase in seniors is not being paired with the increase in caregivers

Ontario has been in need of additional nurses and personal support workers for some time according to a Global News article. It cites expected shortages according to Ontario government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Additional Nurses Needed Additional PSWs Needed
2022 6,000 24,100
2023 10,110 30,900
2024 13,200 37,700
2027 20,700 48,977
2032 33,200 50,853

The issue is not just isolated to the province of Ontario.

2. The profession of caregiving is bursting at the seams in most provinces

Plagued by poor working conditions of long hours, low wages and understaffing, caregivers are seeking opportunities elsewhere or leaving the profession for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Nathaniel Lewis reported in a Global News article, “The number of empty health-care jobs in Canada has more than doubled and care providers are working more overtime and taking more sick leave since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to Statistics Canada.”

And the impact on our aging population across the healthcare sector is unnerving. Caregiver shortages are straining the system creating long wait times and less frequent delivery of care.

Steven Lewis, a health-care policy professor at Simon Fraser University, called the trends “a perfect storm” of a demoralized and tired workforce.

Caregiver Shortage - Impacts on Aging in Place

Canada's caregiver shortage greatly impacts aging in place

It’s not easy to come to terms with needing a caregiver to help with personal care. The transition can be scary and unsettling if not managed well.

As a caregiver for my mom over 10 years ago, I experienced the difficulty she had adjusting to home care. She often did not get the same personal support worker and they were frequently late. Eventually, scheduling stabilized and she became comfortable with her caregivers.

Today the situation is significantly different. Caregiver shortages could impact aging in place by:

  1. Reducing Access to Home Care Services: Older adults requiring assistance with bathing, dressing and taking medication could face long delays, putting them at risk.
  2. Shifting Burden to Family: Family members are juggling caregiving demands with kids and work. A 2023 Leger study advises that family caregivers provide 5.1 hours of care a day, nearing the demands of another full-time job.*
  3. Diminishing Quality of Care: Overworked caregivers can lead to mistakes, neglect, and an overall decline in the quality of care and quality of life for the elderly.
  4. Higher Costs: As demand increases and supply decreases the cost of home care is likely to rise, increasing the financial burden for seniors to access the care they need.

Despite possible increased costs resulting from caregiver shortages, home care is the least expensive service to provide.

According to Dr. Samir Sinha, director of policy research at the National Institute on Ageing, “It costs more than $700 a day to treat a patient in hospital, $200 a day for someone in LTC and $103 for home care.”*

Yet while the majority of older Canadians would prefer to age in place at home, the priority for many provincial governments is to invest more in institutional care.

“This is a rare opportunity when what the people want you to do is actually the cheapest thing for your government. Why wouldn’t the government do that? I’m left scratching my head.”

We honour majestic 100 year old trees. Why wouldn’t we treat our older adults with the same reverence and respect?


Whether you’re aging in place, or have an adult parent who is, access to affordable caregiver support in the future may be a significant challenge.

Get prepared by reviewing your retirement plan to ensure you’ve allocated enough funds for caregivers. There are many professionals who help find private, affordable in-home care or retirement accommodations. Senior Care Access provides a helpful directory across Canada.

Did this article raise your awareness about caregiver shortages, its impact on family and the ability to age in place?
We’d love to know if you’ve experienced issues with accessing affordable home care services. Share your experience!

Financial Concierge™ offers Professional Executor and Power of Attorney services to assist with executor, attorney duties or help with managing daily financial activities. Learn more about Financial Concierge™ here.

Author: Janet Jackson, Contributor: Jill Chambers

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not intended to be legal or financial advice and should not be construed as anything other than for information purposes.

Similar Posts