Canadian Health Charities urge Federal Political Parties to Recognize and Support Family Caregivers, April 5 is Family Caregiver Day

Posted: 04-04-2011

(Ottawa, ON) - April 4, 2011 Health charities and coalitions from across Canada have come together to pay tribute to family caregivers - the often invisible workforce that can be called to duty on a moment's notice. "On behalf of all who are, have been, or will be, involved in caregiving responsibilities, we ask our political leaders to use their influence to give voice and recognition to this important social issue," says Deirdre Freiheit, Executive Director, Health Charities Coalition of Canada.

"Governments have a vital role to play in raising awareness about the importance of caregiving and in establishing measures to better support this crucial group of people who contribute so much to our society," says Sharon Baxter, Executive Director, Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA). "Family caregivers face very real challenges in accessing services, balancing responsibilities, supporting loved ones and maintaining their own wellbeing."

According to a February 2011 survey conducted by the Canadian Cancer Society, 84 percent of Canadians say increased financial support for family caregivers should be a priority healthcare issue in the federal election. "Many caregivers suffer financial difficulties as they deplete personal savings and take unpaid time off from work to care for a family member," says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society. "Canadians are greatly concerned about this issue and are looking to our federal political parties for solutions."

"Financial support for those who must take time off work is a critical component of effective policy for family caregivers," says Nadine Henningsen, Canadian Caregiver Coalition (CCC) President. "It is an important element of a Family Caregiver Strategy that the CCC believes is essential to engage all levels of government and sectors of society to support family caregivers." The intensity and length of caregiving can be significant, with 60% of caregivers providing care for more than three years.

The CCC's Caregiving Strategy includes:

  1. Safeguarding the health and wellbeing of family caregivers and increasing the flexibility and availability of respite care
  2. Minimizing excessive financial burden placed on family caregivers
  3. Enabling access to user friendly information and education
  4. Creating flexible workplace environments that respect caregiving obligations
  5. Investing in research on family caregiving as a foundation for evidence-informed decision making.

The health charities and coalitions commit to working with all parties to shed light on the important work of family caregivers and to taking action to ensure that their contribution is noticed.

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