When employees get cancer (Guest commentary)

What employers should do to help ease the burden
By Linda Thompson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/29/2006

With a steadily aging and shrinking workforce, HR professionals need to take the lead in creating a work culture that supports and retains skilled employees affected by cancer.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, about two in five Canadians will develop cancer during their lifetime. The risk of cancer increases with age. In 2006, an estimated 52 per cent of new cancer cases in Canada will occur among people aged 40 to 69. About 43 per cent will occur among people 70 years and older.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2001 Census, the median age of employees is steadily creeping upward, and will hit almost 44 by 2011. By then almost 15 per cent of Canada’s population will be over 65. Employers will inevitably find themselves dealing more with older workers coping with cancer as well as younger employees becoming caregivers for parents or grandparents.