in A Snapshot of Population Aging and Intergenerational Relationships
in Canada, a June 2017 publication from the Vanier Institute of the
Family. The proportion of Canadians over the age of 84 is projected
to grow from 2.2 per cent today to 5.4 per cent by 2047.
Combined with a shrinking birth rate, this means Canada will
have fewer working-age people to look after more elderly people in
the future. Currently, just over one-quarter of employed Canadians
already have eldercare obligations, and just under one-fifth are jug-gling
both child care and eldercare demands. The Vanier Institute
says, “In 2012, there were 8.1 million family caregivers in Canada
(28 per cent of the population). This includes 966,000 senior car-ers,
4,247,000 working-aged (25 to 54) carers and 1,251,000
young carers (aged 15 to 24).”
Although employers have an obligation to accommodate el-dercare
responsibilities to a reasonable level (as an element of
family status), “Employers are slow to recognize this,” said Vanier
Institute CEO, Nora Spinks. “Of the few that are actually doing
it, only 50 per cent are doing it strategically. Organizations that
understand this phenomenon and address caregiving more strate-gically
will benefit as well as the individual.”
BURDEN OF CARE
“You’re going to see more caregiver strain,” said Nicole Stewart,
principal, Total Rewards Research with The Conference Board of
Canada. “Employers are going to see more burnout and absentee-ism;
some accommodations and being flexible will help both sides.
About one-third of employers do have a program in place. More
often, it’s unpaid leave. I think you’re going to see more and more
employers looking at their strategy.”
Brenda Enright is a franchise owner with Home Instead
Senior Care, based in Etobicoke, Ont.
“Oftentimes, caring for an aging parent is viewed different-ly
than caring for children,” she said, pointing out that employees
may feel guilty asking for accommodation, with the result that
they may choose to leave the job rather than face the stress of ask-ing
for special consideration.
Although men certainly handle their share of eldercare respon-sibilities,
women are more likely to take primary responsibility.
“Women tend to deliver the day-to-day and personal care. Men
play a role, but it tends to be things they can schedule, like lawn
care,” said Spinks.
“Daughters in the workplace continue to make sacrifices at
home and at work,” said Enright. “As women, we tend to have very
broad shoulders and take on so many different responsibilities.
Many women out in the workforce have children and also have an
aging loved one to look after.”
Home Instead research indicates that in the workplace, 91
per cent of female caregivers report having had to take action to
accommodate being an employee and a caregiver. One-quarter of
working daughters say they find workplace stigma around being
a caregiver, while 23 per cent have found their supervisor unsym-pathetic,
and 13 per cent have been penalized because of their
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22 ❚ SEPTEMBER 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL