Spotlight Report

Spotlight on Ontario’s Caregivers

2019 Survey Reveals Struggling Caregivers Across Ontario Need More Support

The second annual Spotlight on Ontario’s Caregivers survey, done in partnership with The Change Foundation and conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights, builds on the inaugural 2018 report and for the first time demonstrates trends in the caregiver experience in Ontario.

The survey looks closely at the role of the caregiver within the healthcare system, the type of caregiving tasks they are engaged in, the time and financial commitment required, and the impact of being a caregiver on their mental, physical and emotional health.

In Canada, nearly a third of the population is providing care to a family member at any given time. The expectations of family caregivers are growing to such an extent that their role is one of the most important ones in society. The survey shows that caregivers provide between 11 and 30 hours of care a week, and some provide so much care they can’t count the hours. The Change Foundation estimates that these family caregivers contribute the equivalent of between $26 and $72 billion to society every year.

One very important insight from last year’s Spotlight Report showed that an overwhelming majority of caregivers wanted one point of access for information. The new survey reinforced this with 77% of respondents saying they wanted one place to go for information and support. To address this need, OCO launched the 24/7 Ontario Caregiver Helpline.

Read the Spotlight on Ontario’s Caregivers Report 2019

Spotlight report cover

To access more data and multimedia content, please visit:

Survey Methodology

An online survey was conducted among over 800 self-reported caregivers in Ontario 16 years of age and older. The survey was conducted in Spring 2019. Margin of error is not applicable to this study due to its online methodology. However, as a guideline the margin of error on a representative sample of 800 would be +/- 3.5%, nineteen times out of twenty.

Trends in Caregiving

2018 vs. 2019 

What changed

  • While similar numbers of caregivers are involved in organizing care, this year 56% find the process difficult, compared to only 39% last year.
  • 31% of caregivers are primarily responsible for paying for expenses this year, compared to 41% in 2018.
  • This year, slightly fewer respondents were primary caregivers than last year, and as a result, slightly more were sharing responsibilities.
  • The impact on finances is more pronounced this year – 32% said they had faced financial hardships compared to 22% in 2018.
  • 79% of caregivers now see their role in the healthcare system as important compared to 70% last year. 18% of caregivers continue to think their role is the most important and a similar percentage feel that their healthcare providers see them as important members of the team.

What stayed the same

  • There are no differences in who caregivers are caring for when comparing the results from last year. That is, most caregivers are caring for parents who are dealing with aging-related health conditions.
  • In 2018, we found that just over half of caregivers were part of the sandwich generation – that is, they care for an aging parent and are also parents to young children under 18 years old. That number remained the same in 2019.
  • Emotional and transportation support are still the top tasks performed by caregivers, followed by household tasks and scheduling appointments.
  • The proportion of caregivers who have the information they need about the health condition of the person they care for is similar to last year. Emotional counselling for both the patient and the caregiver is still one area where more support is needed, with 77% of caregivers wishing for a ‘one-stop-shop’ that they can turn to for help and advice.
  • Most caregivers continue to have a positive outlook towards caregiving and are generally coping well. But 31% are not coping well emotionally and the high levels of stress and negative emotions found last year remain unchanged. 

As part of the Ontario Caregiver Organization’s partnership with The Change Foundation on the Spotlight on Ontario’s Caregivers 2019 report, and together, we took a closer look at key issues and topics for specific groups of caregivers.

Read more about the key issues affecting:

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