THE Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) on Monday urged the Singapore government to develop a caregiving infrastructure that will provide adequate care for the elderly, children and disabled people, as part of its fifth annual set of recommendations for the Singapore Budget 2015.
This is as opposed to expecting women to provide such care by leaving the workforce, Aware said.
Current initiatives to encourage women to return to the workforce are largely in the form of skills training or upgrading, but these do not address the "key question" of whether there are alternatives that adequately replace the care provided by women as unpaid family caregivers.
The financial vulnerability of these unpaid caregivers is a "serious concern", added Aware, which cited that almost half of the 690,000 women who were outside the labour force in 2013 stated that they had dropped out of the formal workforce because of family responsibilities, including caregiving.
Aware's recommendations for the 2015 Budget, therefore, include:
- Review Eldershield in terms of the payout (typically less than half of monthly hospital bills) and period of coverage (72 months, which does not allow for long-term care), both of which Aware deems "too limited";
- Increase subsidies to meet the full cost of care, as the current mandatory co-payment system renders care "too expensive for many to access";
- Legislate eldercare leave;
- Grant child and infant care subsidies to unmarried and married mothers who are not in paid employment; and
- Increase subsidies for disabled people. The Interim Disability Assistance Programme for the Elderly, for instance, is not available to those below 65, and is limited only to a maximum of S$250 a month for 72 months, said Aware.