National Caregiver Day: New Study Shows COVID-19 Increasing Demands on Canadian Caregivers

Carers Canada launches a national campaign to showcase Canadian’s experiences in caregiving and organizations that provide essential supports from coast to coast

06 Apr 2021 | MISSISSAUGA, ON, Canada

Today, on National Caregiver Day, we recognize the eight million Canadians who are caring for their family and friends. Bringing awareness to the crucial role caregivers play, while shedding light on their unique challenges and unmet needs. This year, supporting Canadian caregivers is more important than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional pressures, negatively jeopardizing their physical, emotional and financial health.

A new study released by EMD Serono as part of their Embracing Carers™ Initiative, called The Carer Well-Being Index explores the impact of COVID-19 on the unpaid caregiver community in Canada. The index reveals some alarming trends affecting Canadian caregivers including rising demands, increased responsibilities, inequities and an overall toll on their health and well-being. 

“At EMD Serono, we understand the crucial role caregivers play in our healthcare system and to the patients we serve,” said Manuel Zafra, Managing Director, EMD Serono Canada. "The aim of this study, and the global Embracing Carers Initiative, is to identify challenges and work with key partners to identify and action solutions for this community.”

Overall, the study showed that COVID-19 has increased demands and pressures on unpaid caregivers, causing unprecedented burnout (70%), with a 12 per cent growth in those taking on caregiver duties and the average time Canadians spend caregiving increasing by 4.8 hours a week.

Canadian Carers are Feeling More Burnt Out than Ever

  • 71% of respondents said they are feeling more burnt out than ever, with 70% indicating worsening mental/emotional health, 55% with worsening financial health and 51% indicating worsening physical health
  • Canadian carers have taken on greater responsibilities surrounding emotional support, managing technology, homecare, and advocating for their loved one, with a 42% increase in homecare responsibilities due to the pandemic
  • 64% of caregivers in Canada say that their primary responsibility is to manage doctors’ appointments

Female Carers Disproportionately Affected

  • Female carers and those caring for someone with an ongoing cognitive condition are facing unprecedented challenges
  • 61% of Canadian carers surveyed identified as female with 71% saying that being a carer negatively impacts their emotional/mental health
  • Two-thirds (65%) of female respondents say that being a carer has had a negative impact on their financial health (vs. 56% average Canadian carer)

“This study shows that the pandemic has placed added demands and strain, which is taking a toll on their health and well-being,” said Nadine Henningsen, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Home Care and Carers Canada. “Our experiences from COVID-19 have shown that governments must expand capacity in home-based long-term care services and access to primary health care so that caregivers receive the supports they need from our healthcare system. “

To help address these challenges, Carers Canada launched a national campaign called “Experiences in Caregiving” to showcase Canadians’ experiences in caregiving, the impact of COVID-19 has had on caregivers, and organizations that provide essential supports to caregivers. More than 25 caregivers across Canada will be sharing what they think, how they feel and what they do during their caregiving journeys. For more information and join in the national conversation, please visit

To learn more about the Embracing Carers™ Initiative and for a full copy of the study visit:

*Part of EMD Serono’s global Embracing Carers Initiative, the Carer Well-Being Index surveyed 9,044 caregivers across 12 countries, including 755 unpaid carers in Canada. The Embracing Carers Initiative was created to recognize and raise awareness of the crucial role of informal carers and develop solutions collaboratively with global carer organizations.

For further information: Smita Devane-Bhan

About EMD Serono, Canada
EMD Serono, Canada, is the Canadian biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. EMD Serono, Canada has integrated cutting-edge science, innovative products and devices, and industry-leading patient support and access programs. EMD Serono, Canada has deep expertise in neurology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as a robust pipeline of potential therapies in neurology, oncology, immunology and immuno-oncology. Today, EMD Serono, Canada has more than 100 employees across Canada with headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario.

About Embracing Carers™
Embracing Carers™ is a global initiative led by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, operating as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore, and EMD Performance Materials in the United States and Canada. It is a collaboration with leading caregiver organizations around the world designed to increase awareness, discussion, and action about the often-overlooked needs of caregivers. Given that caregivers need support and often do not know where to turn for help, Embracing Carers™ was created to fill that void.

About Carers Canada
Carers Canada is a national coalition dedicated to increasing recognition and support for caregivers. Through collaborative engagement, members work to build awareness and recognition of the role of caregivers and the challenges they face. Carers Canada is a priority program of the Canadian Home Care Association (CHCA).

About National Caregiver Day
The first Tuesday of April has been unanimously adopted by the Members of Parliament of Canada to recognize the importance of the ’invisible’ unpaid work. Interchangeably known as National Caregiver Day, this day marks the beginning of our formal recognition of caregivers and the valuable contribution they make to care recipients, our communities and our economy.