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Compassionate care proposal a positive step forward, Society says

20 August 2015

Toronto -

The improved compassionate care benefit proposed today will help more families care for their loved ones and puts a spotlight on health for the first time in this federal election campaign.

A plan for a better compassionate care benefit, announced today by the Liberal Party of Canada, will make essential financial support available to more families who are struggling to make ends meet while dealing with cancer and other critical illnesses.

“Today’s announcement puts a spotlight on Canadians’ health needs for the first time in this campaign, nearly 3 weeks after it officially began, and starts a discussion that must grow over the next 2 months,” says Gabriel Miller, Director of Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society. “This is a step forward in making sure caregivers receive the support, care and resources they need, and it’s a step all parties must now build on.”

Caregivers often juggle professional and personal responsibilities to take care of loved ones affected by cancer and other debilitating diseases. The vast majority of caregivers (89%) will spend a year providing care.

“As Canada faces a projected 40% increase in cancer cases over the next 15 years, we’ll need sustainable health systems that guarantee all Canadians have access to high-quality care in their homes and communities, outside of the hospital,” says Mr Miller.

After being a caregiver for 8 years while her husband, Michael, fought cancer, Helene Hardy knows the importance of being there for loved ones in their time of need.

“When my husband was hospitalized in May 2013, I was advised to take my 6-week compassionate leave so I could be with him as he wasn’t expected to live much longer. In August of the same year, Michael was still alive, albeit in a poor state, but my leave had run out. I had to go back to work,” says Ms Hardy. “I was fortunate to have a very compassionate employer who supported me in many helpful ways. That said, we had to take out most of our RRSP savings to make ends meet due to my salary cut and my husband’s dwindling income. Death doesn’t happen on a schedule, and compassionate care benefits should support that.”

In April 2015, the federal government extended the compassionate care benefits in the federal budget which is a critical step toward guaranteeing all Canadians have access to proper palliative care.

The Society is calling on all federal parties to make health a priority in the 2015 election campaign, and to support policies that will contribute to the eradication of cancer, the sustainability of our health systems, and enhanced quality of life for patients and their families.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Rosie Hales

Communications Specialist

Canadian Cancer Society

National office

Phone: 416 934-5338