Federal government urged to establish a Canadian Caregiver Strategy



    OTTAWA, May 7 /CNW/ - The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and the Canadian
Caregiver Coalition (CCC) urges the federal government to acknowledge and
support family caregivers through the establishment of a Canadian Caregiver
Strategy. The groups are bringing their message to more than 50
Parliamentarians during a luncheon held today on Parliament Hill.
    Family Caregivers contribute an astounding $25 to 26 billion of unpaid
labour to the health care system, providing care and assistance for immediate
and extended family and friends who are in need of support because of age,
illness or long term conditions.
    In a 2007 Pollara survey, 23 per cent of Canadians said they had cared
for a family member or close friend with a serious health problem in the
preceding 12 months, with 22 per cent of these people missing one or more
months of work and 41 per cent using personal savings to survive financially
while providing care.
    The CCS and the CCC are recommending that Parliamentarians establish a
Canadian Caregiver Strategy; key components of the proposed Strategy would
include:

    
        -  Minimizing excessive financial burden placed on family caregivers
           by expanding the scope of the current tax measures and
           Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB) administered under federal
           employment insurance programming.
        -  Safeguarding the health and well being of family caregivers
           through the provision of respite care.
        -  Enabling access to information and education to ensure that
           caregivers can competently and confidently provide care.
        -  Creating flexible workplace environments that respect caregiving
           obligations.
    

    "The current economic downturn will only increase the need for a Canadian
Caregiver Strategy, which is central to ensuring that our health care system
can meet the needs of all Canadians," says Jimm Simon, Chair of the Canadian
Cancer Society. "A quick win is possible for family caregivers through an
expansion of the Compassionate Care Benefit."
    "Today's reality is that it will become increasingly difficult for
families to provide care for their loved ones," says Nadine Henningsen,
President of the Canadian Caregiver Coalition. "The CCC believes that
caregivers must be supported, recognized and protected through a Canadian
Caregiver Strategy."
    The CCS and CCC commit to continuing to work with the government to
advance the interests of Canadian family caregivers.

    About the Canadian Cancer Society:

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of
the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more
about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual
Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

    About the Canadian Caregiver Coalition:

    The Canadian Caregiver Coalition is a diverse group of national and
provincial organizations from across Canada that works collaboratively to
represent and promote the needs and interests of family caregivers with all
levels of government, and the community. The vision of the Canadian Caregivers
Coalition is a Canada that recognizes and respects the integral role of family
caregivers in society, and supports this role with the understanding that it
is not a substitute for public responsibility in health and social care.

    
       CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY'S PROPOSED CANADIAN CAREGIVING STRATEGY

    Increasingly, many Canadians are taking on the duty of unpaid caregiving.
Our unpaid caregivers need improved financial support to enable them to care
for their loved ones who have a serious illness with a significant risk of
death. The ideal solution for this is to create a comprehensive set of
caregiver programs that bundle a variety of financial supports for caregivers.
The bundled program should include the following:

        -  Improve the Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB) administered under
           federal employment insurance programming:
           -  Increase the number of weeks: Increase the benefit period to
              26 weeks, accessible during a 52 week period.
           -  Build more flexibility into the program: Allow partial weeks
              over a longer period, rather than blocks of weeks at a time.
           -  Labour policies: Amend the Canada Labour Code to protect the
              jobs of caregivers.

        -  Create a complementary program, not based on employment status,
           for those who are not eligible for the current CCB.
           -  This could be a program like the Canadian Pension Plan that
              people pay into, whether they are self-employed, part-time
              employed, unemployed or retired, so that they could draw on it
              when/if they need income to sustain them through a period
              providing care for a loved one.

        -  Set up a Federal Expert Advisory panel to identify options for
           providing financial assistance to caregivers through the tax
           system.

    About the Canadian Cancer Society:

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of
the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more
about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual
Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.


                         CAREGIVING FACTS AT A GLANCE

    Increasingly, many Canadians are taking on the duty of unpaid caregiving.
This often results in lost income, as well as the increased financial burden
of unforeseen expenses such as transportation, medical equipment and supplies,
pharmaceuticals, help with housework, respite, etc.

    -   In Canada, caregivers provide almost 80% of all home care(1).

    -   It is estimated that caregivers provide $25 to 26 billion of unpaid
        labour annually to the health care system(2).

    -   A majority of caregivers are women (77%)(3).

    -   23% of Canadians reported having cared for a family member or close
        friend with a serious health problem in the preceding 12 months(4).

    -   Of this 23%, 41% used their personal savings to cope.

    -   More than 1/3 of caregivers report extra expenses due to their
        caregiving responsibilities.

    -   22% are missing one or more months of work.

    -   22% of women caregivers changed their work patterns as a result of
        caregiving(5).

    -   14.5% of women caregivers reduced their work hours.

    -   65% of households with caregivers report a combined income of less
        than $45,000.

    -   42% of caregivers believe flexible work hours and provisions for
        short term job and income protection from employers would be helpful.
    

    About the Canadian Cancer Society:

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of
the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more
about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual
Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

    About the Canadian Caregiver Coalition:

    The Canadian Caregiver Coalition is a diverse group of national and
provincial organizations from across Canada that work collaboratively to
represent and promote the needs and interests of family caregivers with all
levels of government, and the community.
    The vision of the Canadian Caregivers Coalition is a Canada that
recognizes and respects the integral role of family caregivers in society, and
supports this role with the understanding that it is not a substitute for
public responsibility in health and social care.

    
    ------------------------------------------
    (1) Guberman, Nancy, "Caregivers and caregiving: New trends and their
        implications for policy: final report," Ottawa, Health Canada 1999.
        Report quoted in Silverman, M., "Le counselling auprès des proches
        aidants", Les Editions du remue-ménage, Canada, 2008
    (2) Ibid
    (3) CMAJ-JMAC "Burden of home care borne by women"
        http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/reprint/168/11/1459
    (4) Pollara. (2007). Health Care in Canada Survey. www.hcic-sssc.ca
    (5) Cranswick Kelly, D. Dosman, "Eldercare: What we know today,"
        Statistics Canada, Canadian Social Trends, Winter 2008, No.86
        www.statcan,gc.ca

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/
    





For further information:

For further information: Aurélie Walsh, Senior Consultant, Blueprint
Public Relations, Tel: (613) 237-7400 x23, Cell: (613) 797-4259,
aurelie@blueprintpr.ca; Kelly Goulet-Lewis, Consultant, Blueprint Public
Relations, Tel: (613) 237-7400 x22, Cell: (613) 769-3411,
kelly@blueprintpr.ca

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