Skip to main content

Alice Wong, the Minister of State for Seniors, will announce in Toronto on Monday a Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan that aims to find ways to accommodate workers who are caregivers during their off hours.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Many middle-aged workers who juggle the demands of their jobs with the care of an elderly loved one are choosing retirement over the emotional stress of being torn between their professional and private lives.

But, with the economy facing labour-market shortages and as an aging population straining the social security system, the federal Conservative government is searching for ways to keep Canadians working for as long as they want to be employed.

To that end, Alice Wong, the Minister of State for Seniors, will announce in Toronto on Monday a Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan that aims to find ways to accommodate workers who are caregivers during their off hours. Details of the plan were obtained by The Globe and Mail.

Story continues below advertisement

"There are currently 6.1 million employed Canadians who are providing to a family member or friend," Ms. Wong will say in a news release. "Our government will work with employers through the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan to help identify cost-effective workplace solutions to support employed caregivers, helping them to achieve a better balance of work and caring responsibilities."

Ms. Wong is creating a seven-person panel, to be chaired by Kim Forgues, the vice-president of human resources for Home Depot of Canada. It will include representatives of companies of various sizes including Ernst and Young, Johnson & Johnson and Assumption Life Insurance.

That panel will consult with companies across Canada to identify the most successful and promising ways in which employers are helping their workers to balance the responsibilities of their jobs with caring for a loved one – usually an elderly parent but often a spouse, a sibling, a disabled child or good friend.

International experience has shown that the introduction of flexible arrangements including job sharing, teleworking and compressed work weeks can go a long way to convince workers who are also caregivers to put off retirement for a few more years.

The panel will report back to Ms. Wong, who hopes to compile the strategies into a document that would be published in the fall or winter.

Employment and Social Development Canada has been researching the problems faced by working caregivers for the past eight years and has determined that, once a full-time employee is spending more than 10 hours caring for someone outside the workplace, their interest in staying employed diminishes.

The replacement cost of that unpaid care is estimated at $24-billion a year. And the demand for the care of seniors alone is expected to nearly double by 2031. Meanwhile, many caregivers have to miss work to attend to the needs of their loved ones. The Conference Board of Canada has estimated that employers lose $1.28-billion in production annually because of caregivers who have to take time off, or quit, because of their personal duties.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter