Canadians Fear Financial Impact of Caring for Sick Family Member

    Canadian Cancer Society Calls on Parties to support a National Caregivers

    OTTAWA, Sept. 11 /CNW/ - More than 50 per cent of Canadians are concerned
about the financial impact of caring for a sick family member, says a national
public opinion poll conducted for the Canadian Cancer Society.
    Poll results also show that more than 60 per cent of Canadians believe it
is likely that they, or their spouse or partner, will be a caregiver to a sick
family member in the future.
    "A federal election is a good time to ask candidates about our citizens'
future needs," says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer
Society. "The Canadian population is aging and increasingly Canadians will be
caring for loved ones who have cancer and other serious illnesses that could
lead to death. While some financial support currently exists for caregivers,
much more needs to be done to assist these people who are the invisible
backbone of our healthcare system. We are calling on all the political parties
to implement a national caregivers strategy to prevent this growing challenge
from become a future crisis."
    The poll results show Canadians support improved caregiver benefits:
    Almost three in five, or 59 per cent of Canadians said they would be more
likely to vote for a party that promises a longer period of support for
Canadians who have to be absent from work to care for a gravely ill family
member at risk of dying.
    Fifty per cent say that a fair government program would provide up to six
months of paid leave if a person had to leave work temporarily to be a
caregiver to a gravely ill family member at risk of dying.
    Many caregivers suffer financial difficulties as they deplete personal
savings and lose income when they are unable to work.
    "It is simply not acceptable for a person already giving so much to
support others to carry an additional burden of extraordinary costs and lost
income," says Demers.
    Demers adds women and lower income families experience the biggest impact
of inadequate support for caregivers. "The majority of caregivers are women
and about 65 per cent of caregivers report an annual household income of below
    "Canadians concerned about this issue, particularly women, should think
carefully about how to vote in the next election," says Demers. "The time is
right for political decision makers to take action. Helping families with
seriously ill, or dying, loved ones is a critical component of an effective
healthcare system."

    The Canadian Cancer Society believes key components of a national
    caregivers strategy should include:

    -   An enhanced Compassionate Care Benefit Program - this program is part
        of the federal Employment Insurance (EI) Program
        -  A longer benefit period of 26 weeks is recommended (it is
           currently six weeks)

    -   Expanding benefits for those workers who are not eligible for
        employment benefits.
        -  As an EI-based program, many people are not eligible for
           compassionate care benefits, including people who are unemployed,
           self-employed, part-time or temporary workers, and contract and
           seasonal employees.

    -   Tax system improvements to better support caregivers.

    The national telephone poll, conducted by Innovative Research Group, was
conducted among 1,015 Canadians from August 5 to 12, 2008. Margin of error is
+/- 3.08, 19 out of 20 times.

    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 at or call our toll-free,
bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For further information:

For further information: Alexa Giorgi, Bilingual Communications
Specialist, (416) 934-5681

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