Thank you, Chair.
Thank you to the volunteers. I really do appreciate the testimony and expertise that you are providing to our committee.
There's not enough time to ask all the questions and hear all your inputs. Some of you have provided a brief. We would encourage each of you to provide a brief with recommendations on how we can better care for our seniors.
I have highlighted a couple of things here for some questions. Repeatedly, we heard the importance of the human touch. Isolation is a huge problem. Along with isolation comes shortness of life, depression, sickness. It's quality of life and the importance of potlucks. I grew up as a young boy enjoying potlucks, the good food and the pies. It keeps the community together. You get to spend time with your friends, of course, but you get wisdom from the seniors. The human touch is so important.
I also wrote down the suggestion from Linda that the federal government could provide training and standards for senior home care. I thought that was extremely important. Health care is provided by the provinces but where does the federal government step in? Well, it's providing that training. A couple of weeks ago we heard from CARP. CARP said, regarding caregivers, that an estimated $25 billion, or 80%, of care is provided annually by eight million informal, unpaid caregivers.
CARP is urgently calling for action to reduce the devastating emotional impact on caregivers nearly a half of whom have experienced stress and depression. CARP wants a refundable federal tax credit, expandable EI coverage for compassionate care benefits, a caregiver's allowance for low-income caregivers, and a significant expanse of respite care. I think those are all good suggestions.
We'll start with Natalie Sonnen. You said there are fewer caregivers now, and we have a growing population. Did I hear that correctly that there are fewer caregivers?