"Brenda Hill has many identities. She works as a wealth adviser for BMO Nesbitt Burns in Caledon, Ont. She’s the primary caregiver for her 78-year-old mother, diagnosed five years ago with Alzheimer’s disease. And she’s the mother of two twentysomething kids.
Yet it’s a new role that has helped her cope with the stress of juggling it all: She’s a participant in a five-year pilot program launched by Mount Sinai Hospital’s Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Therapy in co-operation with Bank of Montreal to help employees caring for family members with the disease.
This program and others like it are signs that workplaces and policy makers are starting to take caregivers’ needs more seriously. Last year, the federal government announced the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan, which called on a panel of employers for their suggestions about how to better support caregivers and keep them in the workplace.
And in January, there was an extensive panel on the topic at this year’s Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) conference.
These conversations come just in time, too. A 2012 Conference Board of Canada study estimates the cost to employers in lost productivity because of caregiving responsibilities to be $1.28-billion a year.
Statistics Canada shows that 8.1 million Canadians are caregivers, and of those, 6.1 million are in the work force. Most of the caregivers are aged 45 to 64, a group that also comprises the most experienced workers, says Allison Williams, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton and research chair for the Canadian Institute of Health Research."