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What We Do

OCC's Top Advocacy Priorities

Ontario needs to be a leader in recognizing the value of and supporting family caregivers - the hidden backbone of our healthcare system.

The Ontario Caregiver Coalition has called on the Ontario Government: 

  • ensure home and community care services that are reliable, accessible, high quality and sufficient to needs. Strong home and community care services enable caregivers to ensure their loved ones receive the care they need and deserve, juggle their multiple responsibilities, and avoid burnout. 

  • prevent and address caregiver financial distress. Caregiving is expensive, both because of its impact on labour force participation, and because out-of-pocket costs can be significant. Caregiver financial distress can impact on caregiver health and wellbeing, negatively affect the quality of care, and lead to premature or unnecessary admission of care recipients into institutional settings. 

  • strengthen and expand respite options, to ensure respite that is accessible, flexible and meaningful for caregivers. 

The Facts

There are 3.3 million or 29% of Ontarians who are unpaid family caregivers. This includes 500,000 young carers between the ages of 15 – 24 years of age providing on average 14-27 hours of care per week.

Family caregivers are experiencing job losses and significant financial distress due to caregiving often being a full-time job, significant out-of-office expenses and narrow eligibility criteria under government financial assistance programs.

In Canada, it is estimated that family caregiving is worth $30-40 billion in “free” labour.

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How These Programs We are Advocating Would Work

We are advocating to change and improve the current caregiver landscape in Ontario by:

 

  1. Enhance self-directed funding programs, such as Passport, Family Managed Care, Special Services at Home, and the Attendant Care program. These programs can provide flexible, reliable and high-quality services for those families whose needs they meet. However, narrow eligibility criteria, inflexible rules, financial barriers, and lengthy waitlists reduce the potential impact of these programs. 

  2. Provide direct financial supports to caregivers, whether through a refundable tax credit or a caregiver allowance. Only a small percentage of caregivers - about 8% - receive financial supports from government, despite the heavy financial impact of caregiving. Financial supports are the number one unmet need of caregivers. Evidence indicates that direct financial supports to caregivers are highly effective and efficient at enabling care in the community, thereby reducing institutional costs. There are proven models in Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Quebec that the Ontario government can draw on in developing a model. 

  3. Strengthen Ontario's home and community care system, which has been under significant strain. Without a strong home and community care system, families find themselves having no choice but to access the more expensive acute and long-term care systems.