Who cares for carers?

Last Sunday, January 11, 2019, I listened to Marguerite Blais’s inspiring journey to become Canada’s first provincial cabinet minister; it was a unique one. Why do I say that it is unique? She became the first minister for informal caregivers – in Quebec. She contributed to David Gutnick’S Sunday Edition in the CBC Radio 1. You can listen to her story in the David Gutnick’s Sunday Edition in the CBC Radio 1.

Carer burnout

In this documentary, she admitted that she had to resign from a previous provincial parliamentary position due to burnout, as a result of the burden of two jobs. Therefore, she decided to dedicate her time fully for her ailing husband; it is because she had been an informal caregiver, of course, for her husband.

It is true that most of us, if not all, become an informal caregiver for our loved ones even for a brief period in our lives – some for years!. And, we burnout almost daily basis – some even each and every passing minute. Invariably, it is unaviodable; we need to think of the already constrained family income, providing physical and medical support, education and welfare of children etc.

Carer support services

Fortunately, at least the developed countries, such as Canada, ease informal caregivers’ burden immensely. They provide patient care support through healthcare agencies who employ the services of duly trained caregivers, physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists. Not only that, the whole package entails temporary leave of absence benefit which enables draw half of their monthly salary for a one year period from their jobs too. Moreover, informal carers may have access to various types of equipment and other supplies also. Additionally, they can request assistance from a range of disease-specific non-governmental organizations who largely depend on donations.

However, there is more to be done.

Spending on carers is an investment.

In this documentary, Marguerite Blais emphasizes two striking points; the overwhelming majority of informal caregivers are women and spending in them is an economic investment – A very strong argument.

Legislative support for carers

However, some provinces have succeeded in enacting legislation too. For example, the Manitoba province, in 2011 passed the Bill 42 – The Caregiver Recognition Act. You can access to this act through this link.

Canada is marching forward in strengthening the support for informal carers. This is a necessity. After all, as Marguerite Blais quipped citing Tina Turner’s famous song ” What’s love got to do with it?”. The civilised societies should take care of informal caregivers.

An invitation for the readers

I am inviting readers to enrich this post by adding various kinds of support you receive in your carer journey, which I have not mentioned here.

Author: Prasantha De Silva

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