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One in four Canadians cares for loved ones who are ill or disabled -- according to Statscan, in 2012 there were 8 million informal or unpaid caregivers.

They are the parents of young children, mature children of aging parents, elderly parents of mature children, life-long partners or friends. These caregivers are unseen and unsung, often giving themselves 24/7 and to the end.

Yet supports for them are inconsistent across Canada and frequently inadequate.  Indeed, since organizations serving needy individuals may overlook their family caregivers, they often leave them to fend for themselves.  

That's why we are asking the Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos to throw caregivers a lifeline.  We call for federal legislation and programs to support caregivers across Canada.  As Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, he can ease their emotional, physical, and financial loads by making caregiver support a key part of the plan for Canada's future.

To begin with, Minister Duclos can follow the recommendations of the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (2014). These included funding for (1) home care, (2) training and coaching to deal with the medical system, (3) caregiver workplace protection,(4) enhanced tax credits, and (5) insurance for long-term caregiving.

In addition, federal programs can ensure that consistent and adequate supports are available across the country for (1) respite care and stress-management, (2) navigating legal and educational systems, (3) life planning and (4) social networking. National standards will ensure supports for caregivers, not just their loved ones, and promote fairness.  Indeed, they will help Minister Duclos fulfill his mandate to provide "more direct help to those who need it".

We can afford it.  Studies have shown that the unpaid work of caregivers was worth over $25 billion a year in 2012, and that's not counting the savings from caring for family members at home rather than institutions.  Since caregivers give so much of themselves, the least we can do is pay them more attention by caring for them.  

What we cannot afford is to continue neglecting informal caregivers as they burn out or drown in despair.

PM Trudeau asks us to do what is smart and right.  Supporting family caregivers is both because it helps them take better care of their loved ones.  It also allows Canada to deserve its reputation as a compassionate society and to fulfill its 2010 commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities -- those who are among the most vulnerable in our society.

We need to invite all those we know -- who are giving or receiving care -- to support this campaign by signing this petition.  Together we can deliver a strong and clear message to Ottawa.


To read the letter sent to Minister Duclos, click on this link:

To read the CARP's brief, click on this link:

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