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Future Care For Canadian Seniors: Demand And Expenditures Expected To Rise Dramatically By 2026

Ottawa, November 3, 2015—Spending on continuing care supports for seniors across all provinces is projected to increase six-fold from $28.3 billion in 2011, to $62.3 billion in 2026 and to $177 billion in 2046, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report entitled Future Care for Canadian Seniors: A Status Quo Forecast.

Moreover, the strong growth in projected spending does not account for the significant level of perceived unmet and under met needs of seniors, projected to worsen. By 2046, it is estimated that seniors expressing unmet or under met needs could more than double.

“The proportion of Canadian seniors age 65 and older is growing, with seniors over 85 escalating even faster.” said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Public Policy. “This trend will cause a dramatic rise in demand for continuing care as the number of Canadian seniors needing support is projected to increase by 71 per cent by 2026.”


  • Between 2011 and 2026, Canadians seniors requiring paid and unpaid continuing care supports is projected to increase by 71 per cent.
  • Total spending on continuing care supports for seniors across all provinces is projected to increase (along with inflation) from $28.3 billion in 2011, to $62.3 billion in 2026 and to $177 billion in 2046.
  • By 2046, it is estimated that 458,000 seniors could express unmet or under met needs—up substantially from the current estimate of about 200,000.
  • The reliance on unpaid caregivers and volunteers to provide continuing care supports will grow dramatically.

Canada’s approach to continuing care has relied heavily on support by unpaid caregivers and volunteers. The reliance on unpaid caregivers and volunteers to provide continuing care supports is also projected to grow significantly. In 2011, an estimated 5.3 million Canadians provided some level of unpaid continuing care to seniors. By 2046, this figure will double, with over 11.6 million Canadians needing to provide some level of unpaid continuing care support to seniors to meet their needs.

“This aging demographic will have a ripple effect across private and public sectors and impact services, products, budgets, programs and policies,” explained Thériault.

Labour demand for continuing care is expected to increase at a 3.1 per cent annual pace until 2026, before growth ramps up to an even faster 3.7 per cent annual pace between 2026 and 2036. This rate of increase will far exceed the modest 1 per cent annual growth in employment projected. Issues around education and training, compensation, and work environment for health care aides are just a few of the areas where employers, academic institutions, governments and the profession itself will need to collaborate to ensure the market matures sufficiently to address the projected demand.

This report explores the continuing care needs of Canadian seniors today and, based on current patterns of support, what meeting those needs will require out to 2046. As the second report in its Future Care for Canadian Seniors research series, this document was prepared for The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC).

The findings and implications of the report will be explored as part of the Healthy Canada conference: Future Care for Seniors. Findings of the report will be shared in a live webinar on November 19, 2015.

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