April 5 is Family Caregiver Day
OTTAWA, April 4 /CNW/ - 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
The CCC's Caregiving Strategy includes:
Safeguarding the health and wellbeing of family caregivers and
increasing the flexibility and availability of respite care
Minimizing excessive financial burden placed on family caregivers
Enabling access to user friendly information and education
Creating flexible workplace environments that respect caregiving
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.
BACKGROUNDER for: Canadian Health Charities urge Federal Political Parties to Recognize
and Support Family Caregivers
Caregivers and the Compassionate Care Benefit Program
Facts about caregivers:
According to Statistics Canada, between 2002 and 2007, the number of
family caregivers in Canada aged 45 years and older increased by 30 per
cent (over 670,000 people). In 2007, the number of family caregivers
aged 45 years and older was 2.7 million
In 2009, the cost to replace family caregivers with members of the paid
workforce at market rates (entitled to benefits, vacation, supervisory
support, education etc.) in Canada was estimated to be between $25-26
billion (based on adults aged 45 and greater caring for those 65 years
and older with long term health or physical limitations). (Hollander M,
et al (2009) Who Cares and How Much? The imputed economic contribution
to the Canadian healthcare system of middle-aged and older unpaid
caregivers providing care to the elderly)
According to the CHPCA, more than 259,000 Canadians die each year, and
most die in old age. With the aging of our population, by 2026, the
number of Canadians dying each year will increase by 40% to 330,000.
Each of those deaths affects, on average, five other people - family
and loved ones who care for others.
A 2007 survey of health care in Canada (Health Care in Canada Survey
2007) suggests that 41% of Canadians use personal savings to support
themselves when caring for loved ones at the end of life and 22% of
these individuals miss one or more months of work.
A 2009 study published in Palliative Medicine (Costs associated with
resource utilization during the palliative phase of care: a Canadian
perspective) indicates that Canadian families frequently shoulder 25%
of the total cost of palliative care due to costs associated with
home-based services such as nursing and personal care services.
An Ipsos Reid study in 2004 showed that Canadians age 55+ estimated
caring for a dying loved one at home was approximately 60 hours a week
and approximately two thirds of Canadians said they could not devote
the estimated number of hours per week to take care of a dying loved
one given their current schedule.
In its August 2010 study, CIHI reported that nearly 20,000 family
caregivers (16%) of seniors receiving home care reported distress
related to their role. The rates of distress were significantly higher
among those - Providing more than 21 hours of care per week (28%) and -
Caring for seniors with symptoms of depression (32%).
About the Compassionate Care Benefit
The Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB) is part of Canada's Employment
Insurance program. Successful CCB applicants can receive up to 55% of
their average insured earnings, to a maximum of $413/week, over a
six-week period to care for a family member at risk of death within 6
months. The six weeks of income assistance can be taken at once, broken
down into one-week periods spread over six months or shared between
family members. Applicants must meet the designation of "family member"
(or a significant person who is considered to be 'like family') and
provide a medical certificate from the doctor of the gravely ill family
member indicating that death is imminent (i.e., within 6 months).
Facts related to the CCB:
In order to qualify, applicants must have worked a minimum of 600
EI-insurable hours over the preceding 52 weeks and be able to
demonstrate that regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by
more than 40 percent.
The CCB only covers six weeks, with a two-week waiting period, with no
extensions for illnesses with a longer trajectory to death. The
two-week waiting period can be challenging for low-income Canadians or
those who are already experiencing financial difficulty due to the loss
of income from a dying spouse.
The application process can be quite complicated for caregivers with a
limited education or language barriers. As well, having the medical
certificate filled out properly has been recognized as a barrier to a
complete and successful application.
In a 2007 study, respondents who had applied for the benefit (whether
successful or not) repeatedly cited difficulty accessing reliable and
accurate information from a variety of sources, including websites and
government offices. It also does not appear to be well-known to
Canadians, particularly at the point of care, where this information
would be most useful. (The Information Transfer and Knowledge Acquisition Geographies of
Family Caregivers: An Analysis of Canada's Compassionate Care Benefit
(Valorie A. Crooks, Allison Williams, Kelli I. Stajduhar, Diane E.
Allan, and S. Robin Cohen)
Canadians may believe that health care is 'free' (or at the very least
covered by taxes), however the cost of care for drugs, home-based
services and other expenses can be staggering. Canadian families
frequently shoulder 25% of the total cost of palliative care due to
costs associated with home-based services such as nursing and personal
care services (Costs associated with resource utilization during the
palliative phase of care: a Canadian perspective, Palliative Medicine, Dec 2009).
The CCB can be particularly difficult for caregivers who are caring for
patients with an uncertain trajectory of death, such as a child with a
life-limiting illness. PedPalNet, a consortium of researchers working
in pediatric end of life care, is currently studying parents who are
caring for a child with a life-limiting illness to better understand
their stress over time and the factors that help them survive through
this experience (see: http://www.pallpedsnet.ca/index.htm for more information).
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to
prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join
the fight! Go to www.ifightcancer.ca to find out how you can help. When you want to know more about cancer,
visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888
Société canadienne du cancer combat cette maladie en faisant tout ce
qu'elle peut pour prévenir le cancer, sauver des vies et soutenir les
personnes qui en sont atteintes. Joignez le combat! Consultez www.combatpourlavie.ca pour savoir comment vous pouvez aider. Pour en savoir plus sur le
cancer, veuillez consulter notre site Web à l'adresse www.cancer.ca ou appelez notre Service d'information sur le cancer, un service
gratuit et bilingue, au 1 888 939-3333.
Canadian Caregiver Coalition
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. www.ccc-ccan.ca.
Coalition canadienne des aidantes et aidants naturels regroupe divers
organismes nationaux et provinciaux, d'un bout à l'autre du pays, afin
de représenter et promouvoir d'une manière collaborative les besoins et
intérêts des aidantes et aidants membres de la famille auprès de tous
les ordres de gouvernement et de la collectivité. www.ccc-ccan.ca
Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association
Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is the national
voice for hospice palliative care in Canada. It is a bilingual,
national charitable non-profit association whose mission is the pursuit
of excellence in care for persons approaching death so that the burdens
of suffering, loneliness and grief are lessened.
Association canadienne de soins palliatifs (ACSP) est la voix nationale
du mouvement des soins palliatifs au Canada. Il s'agit d'une
association bilingue, nationale et à but non lucratif dont la mission
est la recherche de l'excellence dans les soins aux personnes
approchant de la mort, afin de soulager le fardeau de la souffrance, de
la solitude et de la peine.
Health Charities Coalition of Canada
HCCC, a member based organization, is dedicated to advocating for sound
public policy on health issues and promoting the highest quality health
research. HCCC strives for excellence in health policy and seeks to
ensure that the federal government and policy makers look to the
Coalition and its members for timely advice and leadership on major
health issues of concern to Canadians; and that they recognize the
competence, commitment and contributions of health charities in
improving the health and well-being of Canadians.
CCOBS est un organisme géré pour le compte de ses membres qui se
consacre à promouvoir de saines politiques publiques sur les questions
de santé, ainsi que la recherche en santé de la meilleure qualité. La
CCOBS recherche l'excellence dans les politiques de soins de santé afin
que le gouvernement fédéral et les décideurs lui fassent appel, ainsi
qu'à ses membres, pour recevoir des avis dans les meilleurs délais et
pour jouer un rôle de chef de file dans les grandes questions de santé
qui préoccupent les Canadiens. La Coalition recherche également
l'excellence dans ces politiques pour que le gouvernement fédéral et
les décideurs reconnaissent la compétence, le dévouement et les
contributions des organismes bénévoles en santé au service de
l'amélioration de la santé et du bien‑être des Canadiens.
SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)
For further information:
| Canadian Cancer Society |
| Canadian Caregiver Coalition |
| Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association/ Health Charities Coalition of Canada |
1-800-668-2785, ext. 227