The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that one in four Canadians are providing care to family and/or close friends. Many of them are struggling to balance caregiving obligations with work responsibilities.
This challenge is becoming more and more common for Canadian families. There are a number of reasons for this. Canada’s baby-boomers are getting older and living longer. At the same time, women are having more children than a decade ago, and are having them later in life. And the latest numbers show that in the majority of two-parent households, both parents work outside the home. However, women are still likely to shoulder most of the caregiving responsibilities.
What all this means is that more and more Canadian workers are having to balance work with care for their children, their aging parents or both.
This is an important issue for employers. Many have concerns about increased absenteeism, stress-leave and loss of productivity.
Study after study has shown that companies that allow flexible work arrangements have been able to reduce absenteeism, foster employee loyalty, improve morale and retention, and increase productivity.
In 2013, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) participated in a number of discrimination cases involving caregiving. They all explore the same question: whether the right to provide care to our children and our parents should be protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act under the ground of family status.
The CHRC is working with employers, employees and unions to prepare a guide on caregiving for release in 2014–15.