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 to support family caregivers through self-directed respite options and caregiver education programs. But of equal importance is addressing caregiver financial distress and help to navigate the complicated health and community care system. Caregivers are also in need of income support and therefore, we recommend a caregiver allowance and a paid caregiver leave be established. We also recommend that home care client care plans include caregiver needs.
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.
Evidence exits where family caregiving can result in illness and even death.
In Canada, it is estimated that family caregiving is worth $30-40 billion in “free” labour.
How These Programs We are Advocating Would Work
We are advocating to change and improve the current caregiver landscape in Ontario by:
Investing in more self-directed respite care: Replicate successful models of self-directed respite care that provide caregivers with more control over who provides care and when. These models of respite care allow for greater flexibility in care and are in addition to what is currently available through many types of Home Care and Support Services.
Providing a caregiver allowance: Reduce the caregiver’s burden by compensating for their financial loss. An allowance also has the potential to reduce the likelihood for care recipients to be admitted to long term care. A preliminary study of the Nova Scotia’s Caregiver Benefit shows that the Nova Scotia caregiver benefit has reduced the probability of institutionalization by 56% that would otherwise cost the Nova Scotia health system approximately 50 million dollars.
Giving caregivers time off when they need it: We applaud the government for passing the Leave to Help Families Act providing up to eight weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for employees to provide care or support to a family member with a serious medical condition. However, we believe this leave should be paid and we are hopeful that the federal government will implement its' election commitment to expand compassionate care leave.
These are a good start but there is more to do to help caregivers financially.