Matt Jeneroux, MP, influenced by his grandmother

Support for caregivers has always been an important part of my political career and was very much inspired by my grandmother, who I was very close with. She suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s.

A fresh graduate out of university, I was given the opportunity to work in a highpressure environment to compete for a position at an organization. During this time my grandmother’s illness worsened and at that time I had to choose between spending more time with my grandmother or work. In the end, I chose to work and was not able to spend as much time with her, in what turned out to be her final months. She passed away while I was working and I remember sitting there when I received the call from my mother thinking, I made the decision to work and I regret that decision to this day.

I knew that if I had to make that decision to either work or spend time with my grandmother, I’m sure there were others making those tough decisions as well. If I was ever in a position to help people in similar situations so they didn’t have to choose between work and loved ones, I would. When I began my political career as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Alberta, I decided to take my experience and introduce the Compassionate Care legislation. I believe that it is our elected officials’ duty to use their lived experience to influence legislation. I am currently working to do the same federally. In 2020, I introduced Bill C-220, my Private Members’ Bill to extend the length of compassionate care leave.

Currently, Canadians are entitled to three days of paid bereavement leave. We would like to extend this to two weeks and not be limited to bereavement, but to allow people to spend time with their loved ones during the end of their lives without regret and without having to worry about losing their jobs. Everyone has loved ones that they would drop everything to help. They should be allowed to do that. I’ve had many people tell me that they don’t realize the emotional and mental health implications of caring for someone until after they pass. Three days is not enough time for bereavement and to get your loved one’s affairs in order, whether it be your wife, husband, mother, father, or grandparent.

To have support from all the parties on Bill C-220 has been remarkable. It is so rare for all parties to agree on a PMB and it has been very heartwarming to see MPs from different parties stand up to share their stories. I’ll never get that time back with my grandma, but hopefully with this legislation, more Canadian’s do not have to choose between precious time with a loved one and their jobs.

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