In this Oct. 7, 2021, file photo, the Maine State House towers over a fog bank rising from the Kennebec River on a chilly morning in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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I’m a Bangor resident writing in support of establishing a paid-leave system in Maine.

Caregiving and needing care are universal experiences. At one point in our lives or another, it is all but guaranteed that we will either need to provide care for a loved one and we will need to receive care ourselves. But that likelihood is not evenly dispersed and poses ramifications that are not evenly shared.

The stark reality is that women, the primary bearers of the unpaid care burden, are more likely to work part time, citing child care or other family obligations as the primary reason. While these women save Maine more than $2 billion per year, they ultimately pay the cost: 3 in 5 caregivers are women. One in 5 of those caregivers reported caregiving as causing increased financial strain, resulting in 3 in 10 caregivers not being able to save money and 1 in 4 taking on additional debt. 

The result is that women are more likely to face the responsibility of providing care and to pay the financial penalty borne out by a loss in total earnings over a lifetime and decreased access to benefits. Maine families should never be penalized for doing the right thing.

I am urging people to support comprehensive paid leave for all Maine workers. They should please urge their state legislators to support paid leave in Augusta and when they see someone gathering signatures for a paid leave referendum, they should please sign it!

Jena Jones


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