In Focus 2020: Caregiving to Older Canadians

Canada now is “greyer” than ever, with an estimated 6.6 million seniors accounting for nearly 18% of the total population in 2019, with projections indicating continued growth for decades to come.1 In this evolving demographic context, senior care, eldercare and caregiving to older generations have become a growing focus for researchers and policy-makers. These issues are also of concern to families, who provide an estimated 70% to 75% of the care received at home by seniors in Canada.2

In 2018, approximately one in four Canadians aged 15 and older (7.8 million people) provided care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, a physical or mental disability, or problems related to aging.3 More than half said that they cared primarily for older generations (56%, or approximately 4.4 million total), such as parents, parents-in-law, grandparents and great-grandparents.4

In its Care Counts series, Statistics Canada provides an overview of caregivers, caregivers receiving support and more. The Vanier Institute will continue to highlight key findings, share research, compile data and tell the stories behind the statistics on family caregiving in Canada.

Recent statistics:

  • In 2019, Canada was home to an estimated 6.6 million seniors. This represents 18% of the total population, the highest proportion in Canadian history.5 Projections show that this trend will continue in the coming decades as older Canadians continue to live longer, healthier lives.6
  • In 2018, approximately 4 in 10 (21%) care recipients in Canada were seniors, with “problems related to aging” as their most commonly cited reason for receiving care.7
  • In 2018, more than half (56%) of caregivers reported that they provided care primarily for older generations: 47% provided care primarily to parents or parents-in-law, while 9% cared primarily for grandparents and great-grandparents.8
  • In 2017, 12% of seniors surveyed said they needed someone to help with housework, preparing meals, managing daily medications or shopping due to a health problem, ranging from 10% in Alberta to 16% in Newfoundland and Labrador.9
  • In 2017, nearly 3 in 10 (30%) employed Canadians with parents over the age of 65 reported that they took time off to care for aging parents, averaging 450 working hours per year.10


  1. Statistics Canada, Population Estimates on July 1st, by Age and Sex (Table 17-10-0005-01) (page last updated January 20, 2020). Link:
  2. Health Council of Canada, Seniors In Need, Caregivers in Distress: What Are the Home Care Priorities for Seniors in Canada? (2012).
  3. Statistics Canada, “Support Received by Caregivers in Canada,” Insights on Canadian Society (January 8, 2020). Link:
  4. Statistics Canada, “Caregivers in Canada, 2018,” The Daily (January 8, 2020). Link:
  5. Ibid.
  6. Learn more in A Snapshot of Population Aging and Intergenerational Relationships in Canada (June 2017). Link:
  7. Statistics Canada, “Care Counts: Care receivers in Canada, 2018,” Infographics, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 11-627-M (January 22, 2020). Link:
  8. Statistics Canada, “Caregivers in Canada, 2018.”
  9. The Commonwealth Fund, “2017 International Health Policy Survey,” Canadian Institute for Health Information (February 2018). Link:
  10. Benjamin Tal and Royce Mendes, “Who Cares: The Economics of Caring for Aging Parents,” CIBC Economics – In Focus (May 8, 2017). Link:
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