On October 24th, I had the privilege of attending “Cafe Conversations: Working Caregivers and Labour Market Challenges” at Hart House at the University of Toronto. The International Federation of Ageing hosted the conference and invited many leaders in the health-policy field, including:
- David Harvey of Alzheimer Society of Ontario
- Camille Offridge, CEO of the Toronto-central LIHN;
- Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Barbara G. Symiest Research Chair in Rehabilitation Technology, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and University of Toronto
- Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing
- Representatives from the Bank of Montreal, who are implementing their own program for caregivers
The question we were trying to address was how to create a national model for allowing caregivers to continue to participate in the workplace while caring for someone with dementia. This would benefit both our health-care system and economy by allowing a person with dementia to be cared for at home and caregivers to continue working
The Alzheimer Society of Ontario has already been advocating on behalf of working caregivers. Bill 21 has passed second reading and is now in committee. It would provide caregivers with 8 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave.
There were a lot of great ideas brought to the table and the day’s final result will be a report and the creation of an advisory panel to investigate further. Although a difficult challenge, we need to find solutions to the rising tide of Alzheimer’s disease, which has the potential to overwhelm our society. This is just one of the many ways we are committed to finding these much needed solutions.