Health & Wellness

Demand for Elder Care Expected to Double by 2031

A new Canadian Medical Association study estimates that the cost of care will double along with demand

By Caitlin Finlay


As baby boomers begin turning 75 this year, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) predicts that both the demand for and the cost of elder care are going to double within 10 years.

The CMA-commissioned study “Canada’s Elder Care Crisis: Addressing the Doubling Demand” looked at the numbers for both home care and long-term care. According to the results, the demand for long-term care is expected to reach 606,000 patients by 2031, an increase of 59.5% from 380,000 in 2019; of that 2019 total, 302,576 were in care and 77,448 were on a waiting list.

In 2019, nearly 1.2 million Canadians needed home care—the study says that number will increase by 53% to almost 1.8 million by 2031. Due to increased demand and increased costs, the cost of care is expected to almost double—from $29.7 billion (2019) to $58.5 billion (2031), with a cumulative cost between 2021 and 2031 estimated to be $490.6 billion.

“We know the pandemic has exposed major cracks in seniors’ care,” CMA president Dr. Ann Collins said in a press release. “It is not hard to imagine what awaits them in the next decade with no plan in place to address a growing demand for care along with changing expectations for aging at home. Planning and investment by all governments should be underway today to cope with this unprecedented demographic shift and the disruption to our current model of institutional care.”

Recent years have seen a growing trend in the number of seniors preferring to remain at home and receive home care as opposed to moving to a long-term care facility. The study says a shift to home care could reduce the number of patients in long-term care by an estimated 37,000 patients, leading to $794 million a year in savings for the health-care system by 2031. This change alone won’t not be enough, however, to meet the demand expected by 2031, so the CMA is urging the federal government to put policies in place now.

Photo: iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz.