One of the country’s top geriatricians, who says the plight of unpaid caregivers in Canada is a national crisis, is calling on the federal parties to commit to a national seniors’ strategy that includes support for caregivers as one of its main pillars.

“Many caregivers [told me]: ‘Don’t call me an informal caregiver, which is an old term. Call me unpaid,” Sinha said. “There’s nothing informal about me doing a gastrointestinal tube feed, or maybe helping to … dress wounds or administer insulin.'”

“If you think of your life as a pie chart, and the caring responsibilities and the number of crises [that arise], that part of your life starts to take over and fill the pie chart and subsume work [and] family,” said Thomson.

In 1975, she became her father’s caregiver after he had three debilitating strokes. Her son Nicolas was born with severe cerebral palsy that requires complex medical care.

And her third call to duty began a decade ago when her mother — who died last year — began showing signs of dementia. At the time, she moved from the U.K. to Montreal to help her sister take care of her.

“There’s a big difference between doing shopping for your mother every once in a while, and you know, setting up tube feeds … particularly [for] people who are home on ventilators,” she said.

“The type of nursing that families are expected to take on today is unprecedented. And there is no upper limit to what families will be expected to do in cases of complex care.”

Read more or listen to the audio on the CBC.