School of Policy Studies

School of Policy Studies
School of Policy Studies

The pandemic has exposed a crisis in Canada’s care homes

January 23, 2021
The Economist - contribution by Don Drummond, Stauffer-Dunning Fellow, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University


In its treatment of old people Canada is an “international outlier”, says a recent report by Queen’s University’s School of Policy Studies. Canada spends less than most rich countries on long-term care: 1.3% of gdp (including the cost of compulsory insurance) compared with 1.7% on average by members of the oecd. That money is skewed towards institutions such as Tendercare Living rather than towards helping people remain in their own houses. In Canada 42% of people over 80 who need constant care are in institutions, compared with an oecd average of 30%. Denmark, which passed a law in 1987 that effectively barred construction of collective facilities, spends less on institutions than on home care, which is much cheaper. Canada, by contrast, spends six times more on institutional care. “We don’t do [home care] well. We default to institutional care,” says Fred Horne, a former health minister of the western province of Alberta.

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