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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Opinion: Ford’s Tories block program to pay family caregivers
Wayne Gates is MPP for Niagara Falls riding, which includes NOTL and Fort Erie. His motion to launch a program to pay family caregivers was blocked by the Ford PC majority this week. File photo

Wayne Gates

Special to The Lake Report

Across Niagara-on-the-Lake and Ontario, we all know someone who has been an unpaid caregiver — and many of us have been or are unpaid caregivers ourselves. 

Many of us have had to be there for our moms, dads, grandparents or our aunts and uncles as they are getting older, or for our kids and grandkids when they are sick, or when we have a family member who lives with a severe illness or disability.

And the reality is, our caregivers are really suffering. Out of the more than 3.3 million Ontarians who have reported that they have done unpaid caregiving work, nearly 300,000 (almost 1 in 10) have reported financial hardship because of their caregiving responsibilities.

In fact, 90 per cent of people say their caregiving was a source of stress. We also know that women are 50 per cent more likely to say that caregiving was a source of stress, and women are 50 per cent more likely to leave their employment versus their male counterparts.

That’s why last week I was proud to put forward a motion at the Legislature to create a direct financial benefit for unpaid caregivers in Ontario. 

A direct, paid financial benefit for caregivers in Ontario would make life better for unpaid caregivers in Niagara-on-the Lake and across the province.

But it also would help to relieve the burden on our health care system, our long-term care system, our retirement homes and our social service sector. 

A cost-benefit analysis by the Ontario Caregiver Coalition found that a caregiver allowance of only $400 per month could replace 7.8 per cent of Ontario’s long-term care beds, for an immediate cost-saving of $480 million.

I was also proud to have the support of numerous advocacy organizations for the motion, including the Canadian Cancer Society, MS Canada, the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario, the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, Community Living Ontario, among others. 

I was pleased to have the support of my colleagues in the NDP, as well as members of the Liberal and Green parties.

It’s a common-sense, win-win-win, for caregivers, our seniors, our kids and grandkids, for Ontarians living with disabilities, and for our health care and long-term care system.

That’s why I was so disappointed when this Monday, May 13, Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative caucus voted down my motion to create this benefit.

But rest assured, I am going to continue to work to ensure that we build a fairer, more compassionate system for our caregivers, both here in Niagara and across Ontario.

Wayne Gates is MPP for Niagara Falls riding, which includes Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie.

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