Inhumane Trea...

Inhumane Treatment – Parents are Humans Too

by -

By Lianne Castelino

There are some stories that irk the soul so deeply that they demand an outcry.  This is one of them, if ever there was.

While there are plenty of creative people out there who try and succeed in manipulating the unemployment insurance system (for fun, sport, whatever), there is the story of young mother Natalya Rougas who really needs government-paid sickness benefits as she faces a life and death struggle.

Rougas, a 37-year-old married mother of a one-year-old boy is grappling with stage 3 breast cancer, the reality of scheduled a double   mastectomy, and the daily challenges of being a mom.  She must now add to that daunting list – fighting the government.

To read the complete article in The Toronto Star by Health reporter Theresa Boyle:…

We (parents and non-parents) can all be so politically-correct when we say “parenting is the most difficult job in the world” or “parenting is the only job that doesn’t get paid” or whatever the popular phrase may be…but do we mean it when it really counts.

Will the federal government take the high road and give this poor woman the $6,000 she is seeking in sickness benefits as a result of being diagnosed with cancer just prior to her planned return to work after giving birth? OR will this poor woman have to battle beauraucracy as she fights for her life?

There must be some mistake here. It defies all logic.

The injustice is obvious. Hopefully sanity will prevail and the situation corrected for Natalya Rougas and her young family.

The larger issue is even more disturbing. How many thousands of women suffer from serious post-partum issues (physical, mental and other) that require them to apply for employment insurance sickness benefits, stemming from their maternity-parental leave.

The article notes that: “..sickness benefits don’t appear to be going to mothers who fall ill in the year following their deliveries, they say. Only expectant mothers who become ill about 15 weeks prior to their due dates seem to get the benefit.”

Let’s call it what it is.

Giving birth is a physical trauma (whether you have no contractions or a 35 hour labour). Giving birth is an emotional trauma (radical changes to the body, the family home, the couple relationship, sibling relationships, etc).

How in the world can anyone predict what will occur after a woman gives birth – how she’s going to feel, how her will body heal, how she will react emotionally, hormonally, etc?

Studies have shown, for example that post-partum depression can occur up to and beyond ONE FULL YEAR after delivery. All of a sudden, one day the signs begin to show and a new mother who may have been happy to bits about her new addition is suddenly depressed or frustrated. Is this condition or situation not worthy of employment insurance sickness benefits? Who decides what post-partum condition truly is a sickness worthy of benefits and what isn’t?

As a society, we need to focus in on what pushing a human being out of a body truly entails. Pregnancy, labour and delivery are all wonderful miracles occurring in a female body. That expectant woman, the mother-to-be, needs to be treated like a human being, not a machine. So too does that person’s spouse, partner and other children.

Yes, there will be those who will abuse the system and get away with it.  But there are many with legitimate reasons – like those of Natalya Rougas – where greater understanding and compassion are called for.   We need to show it.