Mother fired while caring for son with cancer says Alberta rules must change – Calgary

Amanda Jensen will never forget the day she learned her six-year-old son Jake had leukemia — a heartbreaking moment made worse by the chain of events that followed that left her without a job.

Now she’s pushing for the Alberta government to do more to protect workers’ rights for parents who care for critically ill children. 

“Picking him up from school that day, I couldn’t look at him without feelings of terror that filled my heart, and fear for the future,” Jensen said from her home in Lethbridge.

She had little time to process the diagnosis on Oct. 5, 2016, before Jake was rushed to Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary the next day for urgent treatment. 

That was the same day she first contacted her employer, the Lethbridge Lodging Association, to notify them she would be spending an extended period of time in Calgary for her son’s treatment.

‘Solution that best suits our needs’

On Oct. 19, the employer issued a record of employment for Jensen, listing compassionate care leave as the reason for her departure. Jensen said between this and her conversations and correspondence with her manager she understood that her request for a 35-week leave of absence had been granted. 

A month later, however, the Lethbridge Lodging Association terminated her unpaid leave and employment. 

“We want you to know that after having exhausted all other resources in search of a solution, we have found it necessary to go with a solution that best suits our needs given the unfortunate circumstances,” the non-profit’s manager said in an email to Jensen dated Nov. 7.

Jake loves Lego, sports and video games. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

Jensen was encouraged to apply for the job in the future if it became available again. 

“Instead of just being able to focus on … a new cancer diagnosis for my six-year-old son, I was then forced to think about my future well-being and my ability to provide for my family,” Jensen said. 

Her situation was…

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