Care of aging parents costs Canadians an estimated $33B annually

Caring for aging parents costs Canadians an estimated $33 billion a a year in out-of-pocket expenses and time taken from work, and that figure is expected to grow, according to a new report.

Lower-income earners pay more, take more time off, economists say

Changing demographics are forecast to send Canadians' cost of caring for elderly parents soaring in the next decade, according to a new report. (Rick Rycroft/ Associated Press)

Caring for aging parents costs Canadians an estimated $33 billion a year in out-of-pocket expenses and time taken from work, and that figure is expected to grow, according to a report released Monday by economists at CIBC.

"An aging population combined with longer lifespans and strained social services has in recent years seen more and more Canadians taking on the role of caregiver for their aging parents," CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal and senior economist Royce Mendes said in their report.

That tendency is likely to intensify in the coming years, they said.

Statistics Canada said recently the latest census data indicates seniors now outnumber children in Canada, as the population has experienced its greatest increase in the proportion of older people since Confederation. 

The 2016 census figures show there are 5.9 million Canadian seniors, compared to 5.8 million Canadians 14 and under.

Boomer population is booming

According to CIBC, the proportion of Canadians aged 65 and over sits at 17 per cent of the population, but that figure is expected to rise to 22 per cent in 10 years.

Based on the results of a recent survey, close to two million Canadians, or 14 per cent of those with parents over 65, wind up paying out-of-pocket to cover the costs of caring for those seniors, Tal and Mendes said. Those costs average $3,300 a year for each caregiver, which translates into an overall cost to the Canadian economy of just over $6 billion, they said.

However, the much bigger cost to caregivers comes in the form of time taken off work.

The survey showed that close to 30 per cent of workers with older parents take roughly 450 hours per year of time off work to attend to their care needs, CIBC said.

"That translates into roughly $27 billion of lost income or foregone vacation time," Tal and Mendes said in their report.

Women's burden is 30% heavier

Lower-income Canadians incur higher direct costs and spend more time aiding aging parents than do higher-income earners, the economists said, adding that women take 30 per cent more time off than men do to provide that care.

With the proportion of seniors forecast to rise over the next decade, CIBC said the costs — both direct and indirect — associated with care of elderly parents are expected to mushroom by more than 20 per cent in real dollars over that period due solely to changing demographics.

The report is based on the results of an online poll conducted between March 16 and 20 among 3,034 randomly selected adult Canadians who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. A probabilistic sample of this size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender, region, and language in the census data.


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