April 7, 2015 is National Family Caregiver Day! It’s a day where Canadians come together to recognize and celebrate family members, friends, neighbours, and others who take on a caring role to support someone with a diminishing physical ability, a debilitating cognitive condition or a chronic life-limiting illness. It’s a special day for Canadians to pay tribute and acknowledge the selfless contributions of family caregivers to our lives and society.

The valuable contributions made by family caregivers are often done so while balancing paid employment. In fact, 6.1 million caregivers are in the workforce, which represents 35% of employed Canadians. For this 35%, the time and physical demands are nearly equivalent to working two fulltime jobs. On average, family caregivers provide up to 30 hours of unpaid care per week for a period of 3 years.

This balancing act impacts a family caregiver’s financial, emotional and personal well-being. This burden is further intensified when caring for a loved one nearing life’s end because of increasing care needs, uncertain length of time away from work, and the increased emotional toll of anticipatory grief. Of the 6.1 million caregivers, 50% are between the ages of 45 and 65 – their peak earning years. In addition, when care and work are unbalanced, caregivers must make additional sacrifices, such as: taking a leave of absence (26%), reducing work hours (15%), turning down job opportunities (10%), quitting their jobs (6%) or missing days of work (4 in 10). Unbalanced care and work results in caregivers losing wages, decreasing their retirement income, and losing extended health benefits.

Caregivers are not the only ones negatively impacted by unbalanced care and work. Employers and the economy are also impacted by productivity losses. Employers are impacted through the loss of work days (18 million per year), loss of skilled employees, and increased turnover. The economy has been impacted to the tune of $1.3 billion in lost productive per year – an astounding figure.

Share your voice and help honour a caregiver close to you. Add #careandwork to your tweets and join the celebration of National Family Caregiver Day!

Visit the Canadian Caregiver Coalition at www.ccc-ccan.ca for more information.