Our population is getting older quickly. The Government of Canada’s Action for Seniors report states one in seven Canadians were seniors in 2021 with that number expected to jump to one in four by 2030. The Canadian Institute for Health Information is predicting a 68% increase in Canada’s senior population from 2017 to 2037, accounting for 10.4 million people.
Receiving healthcare at home is the preferred route for most people where feasible, saving both them and the government money when compared to staying in institutions. However, upfront capital costs and ongoing out-of-pocket health and personal service care costs to provide adequate healthcare are a major barrier to home care.
The applies to seniors as well as those with ongoing healthcare needs due to illness or injury.
The National Home Modifications Survey, commissioned by March of Dimes Canada in April 2021, found 78% of Canadians want to age in their current homes, but only 26% predict they’ll be able to do so. The survey found 50% of adults and seniors identified costs of home modifications as a barrier.
For many, the decision to move into long-term care is complicated, even if it’s the best way to meet their healthcare needs. The National Institute on Ageing (NIA) estimates some 40,000 Canadians were on waitlists for nursing homes at any given time in 2019. Meanwhile, they estimated a further 430,000 Canadians have unmet homecare needs. The NIA estimates 22% of people currently in nursing homes would be better served at home with the appropriate support.
Our municipal, provincial and federal governments spend billions of dollars every year on assisting people with long-term healthcare needs with the majority going to long-term care homes and subsidies for institutional care. The NIA estimates that in 2018 public spending on long-term care in Canada included $20 billion for nursing home care and $4 billion for home and community-based care.
Most Canadians in need of regular healthcare are getting it at home whether by choice or lack of available institutional space. Some require a moderate level of support while others need several hours of daily care. Regardless, the costs are cheaper for care at home than in an institution.
Home Care Ontario estimates based on a 2011 study that the costs for care are $842/day for a hospital bed, $126/day for a long-term care bed, and $42/ day for home care.
Home care allows Canadians to get the care they want at a much lower cost to the public and, depending on the subsidies they are eligible for, a lower cost to themselves.
Receiving care at home has challenges and significant expenses. Many people’s homes need renovations and special equipment from beds to lifts. There are costs for private services, including medical care, housekeeping, transportation, physical therapy, cooking, and personal care. The role of family caregivers can only offer so much and is dependant on a senior’s family situation.
Home Care Ontario found family fund more than 20 million hours of home care annually for 150,000 people at an average cost of $17,600 per year per family.
While healthcare is provincial in operations, our federal government is heavily involved in supporting our healthcare network and has provided tax credits for various healthcare initiatives.
The Government of Canada currently offers the Medical Expense Tax Credit, but it does not offer a level of support sufficient to have a meaningful impact for someone undertaking the task of receiving long-term care at home.
Offering subsidies to receive care at home will save Canadians money when it comes to healthcare spending and relieve pressure on our overburdened healthcare system.
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce has submitted a resolution to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) asking the Government of Canada to:
• Create a home care refundable tax credit of 15% of up to $10,000 in annual retained home care services, for a total maximum benefit of $1,500
• Create a one-time refundable $10,000 tax credit toward special medical equipment and renovations, including hospital beds and patient lifts
If adopted by the CCC at the annual conference this fall, this will become a core part of the CCC’s advocacy platform for the next three years. It’s important to start making these investments now. Investments in home care saves money to taxpayers and people needing care while providing the level of care many desire.