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Canada is facing a crisis in seniors’ care and escalating costs if governments don’t start investing in home-care services, according to a report from Queen’s University’s School of Policy Studies.

Post-Covid reforms expected for long-term-care facilities will make these residences more expensive as baby boomers age, the report says.

“Canada will need to support the needs of 4.2 million additional seniors over the next 22 years, and 82% will be 75 or older,” said Don Drummond, the report’s co-author and a former chief economist at TD Bank, in a release.

“This dramatically increases the median age and with it the complexity and cost of seniors’ care.”

Between one-in-nine and one-in-five seniors living in long-term care would benefit from home care, which is less expensive and often more suitable, the report says. But Canada lags in home-care investment.

Currently 1.3% of GDP is spent on traditional long-term care, the report says. Unless governments start investing in alternatives, the cost is expected to increase to 4.2% of GDP by 2041.

Implementing more options for seniors to age at home could significantly reduce those costs.

The report says seniors need three types of support in addition to health care: housing, lifestyle and social. Many seniors move into long-term care due to dementia or frailty, but a more holistic health-care approach that considers the other three types of support can prevent such conditions or lessen their effects.

“Canada’s health-care model focuses on alleviating physical and mental limitations, with housing, lifestyle and social needs viewed as secondary,” stated co-author Duncan Sinclair in a release.

“There are benefits to investing in age-in-place options and it is the responsibility of Canadians, and our leaders, to provide our seniors with these options so they can maintain a high quality of life as their needs evolve.”

Download the full report here.