The majority of older Canadians are unaware of the costs associated with long-term care and few are financially prepared to cover expenses, finds a survey by The Canadian Life and Health Association (CLHIA).

The study, which polled Canadians aged 60 plus, shows 56% of respondents aren’t familiar with the costs of long-term care in their province and two-thirds (67%) don’t have a financial plan to cover these costs.

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“We need to acknowledge that we are facing a looming crisis in this country,” says Frank Swedlove, president, CLHIA. “Many older Canadians are on the verge of sticker shock when they inevitably come up against the need to pay for long-term care services. We calculate that the baby-boomer generation alone will require $1.2 trillion to meet their long-term care needs.”

The CLHIA estimates that currently available government programs would only cover about half of this amount.

Women (70%) are less prepared saying they don’t have a financial plan to cover the costs associated with possible long-term care needs compared to men (62%). This is especially troublesome considering women have a longer life expectancy.

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“It is in the national interest that all levels of government and Canadians begin working together immediately to find solutions that will close the gap on what services are currently provided and what people can afford,” adds Swedlove.

Two-thirds of Canadians aged 60 plus say they will put money aside for long-term care if the government matches dollars they save, similar to the Registered Education Savings Plan. Half of the respondents want the government to take the lead and expand the existing long-term care programs, even if it means higher taxes.

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