Relief for family caregivers is back on track in Ontario


Guest article courtesy of Jackie Hickey, RN CCP, Community Health Advisor, Bayshore Home Health.

Our new Ontario government leadership has begun to set priorities in health care – thinking both inside and outside the box by focusing on the sometimes forgotten family caregiver.

Helping families care for their sick loved ones was put on the back burner last fall when former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned and his prorogation of the legislative assembly killed several bills, including the proposed Family Caregiver Leave Act.

But things got back on track March 5th when Bill 21 – the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families), 2013 – had its first reading in the Ontario Legislature. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to politics and all the rules and processes, but I was genuinely happy to see that support for family caregivers is back on the table. For the official details see this Ontario government website.

The proposed rules would ensure unpaid, job-protected leave for family caregivers: eight weeks if caring for a family member with a serious medical condition; 37 weeks if caring for a critically ill child; up to 52 weeks for parents of a missing child; and up to 104 weeks for parents of a child that has died as a result of crime.

Bill 21 recognizes the importance of both family and job security, and would build on the existing Family Medical Leave rules. It’s not good enough to only have a few days with a loved one. This bill will allow undivided attention and alleviate some of the caregiver’s stress.
The proposed rules would provide job protection for family members who care for:

  • A spouse

  • A parent, step-parent or foster parent

  • A child, step-child or foster child

  • A grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild

  • The spouse of their child

  • A sibling

  • A relative who is dependent on them for care or assistance

Ontario says it’s taking steps to protect the jobs of men and women who are needed at home. This would have definitely come in handy for me a few years ago when my father was ill; my employer at the time was generous enough to give me some downtime during the last week of my father’s life. However, one week was not enough. My father would have benefited more from having me with him throughout his last stages of life, not to mention the help I could have provided to my 80-year-old mother who was his primary caregiver.

These initiatives are categorically needed solutions that will help us. It’s a step in the right direction and I hope we’ll see more of this kind of approach to solving some of our health-care quandaries.

Let’s keep an eye on this and hope this bill gets passed.

To read Bill 21, click here.

Knowing you can take care of your loved one without worrying about losing your job, is important to one’s peace of mind. If passed, the legislation would allow caregivers to focus their attention on what matters most – providing care and support to their loved ones when they need it most.

Bayshore Home Health, a Canadian company with experience and resources country wide. Available 24/ 7, we provide in-home care based on our client’s needs, the right amount of quality care services to maintain good health and wellbeing. Bayshore will determine which services you're eligible for through government programs, funding investigation or private care. We create a plan that works for you. For more information about Bayshore and our services visit, or call our toll-free line to speak with a Care Agent at 1-877-289-3997. To speak with Jackie Hickey email or visit her blog.

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