More than 8 million Canadian women are carers, often unpaid

It's a crucial part of the economy, but how many Canadians are looking after children or adults in 2022?

More than 8 million Canadian women are carers, often unpaid
Steve Randall

Providing care for children or dependent adults is not usually driven by money, but a new report shows the extent to which Canadians give up earning potential as a result.

Statistics Canada says that, in 2022, 52% of women and 42% of men provide some form of care for others, with women generally doing more.

Three in ten Canadians are providing care to children under 15. Just 3% are paid with 29% providing unpaid care.

For those looking after adults with long-term conditions and disabilities., 23% of the population are affected and again just 3% are paid with 21% unpaid.

Of the almost 8.4 million women carers, 32% are unpaid carers for children and 23% for adults. This compares to 26% and 19% for men. Women are more likely to provide regular, set caring, while men may take on tasks such as maintenance and outdoor work.

Most care givers for children are in the prime income-earning ages of 25-54 (60% are 35-44). Again, women are more likely to be providing unpaid care than men.

Caring in retirement

Older adults are highly likely to be looking after grandchildren in an unpaid role (76% of 55-64s and 93% of over 65s).

Those approaching retirement (55-64 years old) are most likely to be caring for an adult with long-term conditions and disabilities. Although women are still more likely to be unpaid carers than men, the gap narrows past 65 years of age.

In 2022, unpaid caregivers for care-dependent adults spent a median of 8 hours per week providing care or support to adults with long-term conditions or disabilities, with women providing 10 hours of care compared with 6 hours for men.