Supporters of Paid Family, Medical Leave in ME Hopeful This Legislative Session
Monday, January 23, 2023
AARP Maine said it is hopeful lawmakers will find common ground on issues to support older Mainers this legislative session, including establishing a paid family and medical leave policy.
Surveys show more than 75% of Mainers support a plan to help those providing unpaid care to older parents or spouses while often working full-time jobs or raising children themselves.
Noël Bonam, state director of AARP Maine, said a paid family and medical leave program is needed so caregivers do not have to choose between caring for a loved one and their job.
"We know that there are over 180,000 unpaid caregivers in the state who are making all sorts of changes to their lives to support and take care of a loved one," Bonam reported.
An AARP study found unpaid caregivers in Maine provide more than $2 billion worth of care each year. Bonam argued a paid family and medical leave policy would help offer some balance and support to people working to keep their families healthy and together.
Broadband is another important issue for older Mainers, yet less than 50% of households in the state have access to reliable high-speed internet.
Bonam emphasized the pandemic revealed the importance of reliable internet service for older Mainers to access telehealth services and avoid the health risks stemming from isolation and loneliness.
"It's important for people living in remote places in the state to be able to live life in a way that feels fulfilling," Bonam contended. "In a way that feels connected to what is really going on in the rest of the state."
Bonam noted AARP is encouraging its members to regularly contact their lawmakers to share their struggles as well as hopes for impactful legislation for older Mainers this session. He added Mainers are fortunate to live in a state where residents can easily pick up the phone and give them a call.
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