Yet the demand for affordable, accessible, and high-quality care will only continue to grow as Canada’s population ages. Despite its essential nature, care work remains highly gendered, overlooked, and undervalued. Statistics Canada estimates the economic value of unpaid household care work in Canada is between $517 billion and $860 billion annually, or between 25.2% and 37.2% of Canada’s GDP, which is more than the contribution of manufacturing, wholesale, and retail industries combined.
In 2022, the federal government continued to push forward its ambitious child care agenda, with its historic public investment and bilateral agreements signed with all provinces and territories to provide affordable, inclusive, and high-quality child care across Canada. Now we need a comprehensive system to address the full spectrum of care needs, including child care, disability and long-term care, and elder care. This will require further investment and targeted actions to address systemic issues in the paid care sector, including labour shortages, problems with recruitment and retention, low wages and poor working conditions, and burnout among staff.
The government should also work with the provinces and territories to ratify the International Labour Organization Convention 189 on the protection of domestic workers, who remain at high risk of exploitation.