Originally posted at allaboutestates.ca on September 12, 2014

Labour Day is a back to school time and for me this translates into the time to start new projects and a time to take stock of current events so as to be able to plan ahead with anticipation. The September 1, 2014 Globe and Mail Editorial and Comment page provided three very interesting essays. The first essay is on Mortality written by Konrad Yakubuski and discusses ‘the right to die with dignity’. The second essay is on Caregiving and the third essay is on Back To School, written by Elizabeth Renzetti. While all three are well written and thought provoking articles, it is the Caregiving essay by Sherri Torjman, titled ‘An informal but essential work force’ that particularly relates to the Labour Day, back to school/work theme.

According to results of the General Social Survey, Portrait of caregivers, 2012, released in September 2013, nearly 46% of Canadians aged 15 and older or 13 million Canadians have provided care to a family member or friend with long-term health needs. This report found that overall, caregivers spent a median of 3 hours a week. Spouses spent the greatest amount of time, looking after their spouse, with a median of 14 hours weekly.

From the 2012 statistics, 60% of caregivers were working at a paid job as well. Of the 81% of caregivers with children living at home under the age of 18, the average median age was 41 years. The Sandwich Generation has been aptly named. The consequences felt by the employed carer include 15% reducing their work hours to accommodate life’s other needs (their family) causing a reduction in take home pay and employee benefits as well as 1% turning down promotions or other opportunities such as travel.
More than one in four Canadians reported providing care to a family member or friend. Look around;you likely know these caregivers.

I have attached a link to a video on Balancing Work and Care There is assistance available. Speak to your human resource department and ask them what they are doing to assist you. Caregiving is a matter of time, you may not be there now, but you will be. As Ms. Torjman concluded: “On Labour Day, we need to pay attention to this huge group of essential workers; the millions of informal caregivers who show up nowhere in the employment numbers, but figure so prominently in real life.”
-Audrey Miller

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