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Ella Amir 514.486.1448 514.880.4974
First Symposium on Young Carers: A call for funding awareness and support for young carers.
Montreal, March 25, 2019. The success of the first symposium « Putting young carers on the map » helped to put forward a cours of action to better support young caregivers. In the wake of the provincial budget, the RANQ and AMI-Québec hope that the $ 21 million allocated for caregivers would help increase awareness and develop support programs specifically addressing young caregivers.
An experience that can be positive if young caregivers are supported
Thanks to the quality of the presentations and the testimonials of three young caregivers, the symposium allowed for a deep reflection on the reality of young caregivers and their need for support. According to Ella Amir, Executive Director of AMI-Québec: « It is fundamental that the education, the health and social services sectors, as well as the public at large, become more aware of the issues faced by young caregivers and recognize their major contribution in restoring or maintaining the quality of life of individuals who are sick, aging or living with a disability. Being a young caregiver can be a positive experience, as long as they are well supported »
Once support services for young caregivers are developed throughout Quebec, we must also prevent « a financial terror » that is often caused when vulnerable people and their caregivers can’t make ends meet; that was described by a young caregiver who talked about his mother who lived with schizophrenia and his role supporting her. To make sure young caregivers lead satisfactory childhood and young adult life, systemic measures must be implemented along with support services,.
Little knowledge about young caregivers
The symposium also revealed the limited data and knowledge about young caregivers. Mélanie Perroux, RANQ’s general coordinator says, « There are already a lot of research on the state of mental and physical health of young people, the causes of dropping out of school or suicide. We must add a few questions to understand the association between being young caregivers and these different outcomes. We know that community-based youth organizations, those supporting family caregivers, and the health and education sectors all have some knowledge; working in synergy, with the support of the government, would spread this knowledge and develop the support needed by young caregivers, like is evident in the oldest young carer program in Canada, the Ontario-based Powerhouse Project. »
AMI-Québec and RANQ thank Marguerite Blais, Minister of Seniors and Caregivers, for her opening remarks, as well as to the researchers and speakers who have contributed to the transfer of knowledge through their presentations and interventions. We salute the young caregivers who bravely agreed to share their life experiences. Finally, we thank all the organizations and individuals who took part in this symposium, as well as Health Canada and the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) that funded this event.
- Young caregivers aged 15 to 29 are over 1.2 million in Canada. However, it is possible to be young helpers as young as 8 years old or before.
- Almost half of young caregivers care for more than one person with various health conditions. More than a third of young caregivers take care of grandparents
- Young carers devote a similar amount of time to their caregiving activities as their 45 to 54 year old counterparts, the most common caregiver age group
- 1/1000 young caregivers gained support in Canada, compared with 1/14 in England and Wales.
AMI-Québec is committed to helping families manage the effects of mental illness through support, education, guidance and advocacy. By promoting understanding, the organization works to dispel the stigma still surrounding mental illness, thereby helping to create communities that offer new hope for meaningful lives.
Founded in 2000, le Regroupement des Aidants Naturels du Québec (RANQ) has 87 members and represents more than 21,000 caregivers across Quebec. RANQ has expertise about all caregiving situations and is proposing a national strategy for caregiver support.