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National Caregivers Week is in full swing, and Réseau FADOQ is reiterating the importance of protecting caregivers’ jobs.
That’s why the network is asking the Government of Quebec to establish a caregiver insurance plan that follows the same model as the Quebec Parental Insurance Program (QPIP). The idea is to allow caregivers to better balance their family and professional obligations, in the same way that QPIP helps out new parents. Réseau FADOQ believes caregivers should be given up to 52 weeks leave, job protection, and an income-dependent benefit.
“Caregivers should never have to risk getting fired because they are taking time off to care for a family member,” said Réseau FADOQ Chair Gisèle Tassé-Goodman.
Réseau FADOQ doesn’t think the government should look at establishing a plan for caregivers as an expense. Over 57% of caregivers have jobs and the lack of measures to protect their ability to balance work and family responsibilities has significant impacts on the economy. In Canada, an estimated $641 million in tax revenue and social benefits is lost per year due to reductions in caregivers’ working hours and lower productivity.
Caregivers make a major contribution to our society. For individuals requiring 22 hours of care per week, caregivers provide an average of 16 hours. That would cost somewhere between $4 and $10 billion per year. In Canada, 1.2 million full-time professionals would have to be hired to replace the care provided by caregivers.
That’s why it’s crucial that caregivers get the opportunity to focus on their responsibilities without risking burnout. Réseau FADOQ is suggesting that the caregiver plan should mirror QPIP’s flexibility in terms of duration and remuneration. Currently, the Act respecting labour standards allows workers 16 weeks unpaid leave if they need to care for a relative. If a medical certificate shows that the relative is seriously ill, caregivers can take up to 27 weeks unpaid leave. After 27 weeks, they have no further job protection.
QPIP is managed by Conseil de gestion de l’assurance parentale and the caregiver plan could be managed by the same body to leverage their expertise.
“Our organization is aware that this is a significant demand, but we believe there are multiple avenues for funding a caregiver plan.” For example, funding could be provided on a voluntary basis by member workers. It’s a subject we need to discuss as a society,” said Ms. Tassé-Goodman.