Loss of Ability to Perform Household Services

The issue of loss of household/homemaking services has been dealt with by the Courts. The British Columbia Court of Appeal in the case of Grant v. Jackson(December 2, 1985) held that

“The children lost the housekeeping services that the mother was rendering; the provision of those services by the father did not affect the rights of the children against the tortfeasor.”

Discovery has developed a series of calculations that will assist in determining the value of the loss of housekeeping, child care, and other homemaking services.

To determine the amount of time spent by an individual on such household tasks, assuming individual time diaries are unavailable, we are able to use Statistics Canada survey data to estimate time allocation for individual tasks. For example, child care activities can be divided into (1) “primary” care, consisting of dressing, feeding and washing, teaching, reading to and playing with children, medical care, and travel related to child care, and (2) “secondary” care, consisting of time spent doing other activities in the presence of the children, such as eating meals with a child or doing some other activity while caring for a child.

The Statistics Canada survey shows that time spent on the various child care activities varies according to the age and sex of the mother and her labour force status, as well as on the age of the child. In general, not surprisingly, younger children require much more time and care, and women who are not employed spend more time on primary child care than do those who are employed or students.

Valuation of Time Spent

Two methods of estimating the value of unpaid household work are possible. The opportunity cost of household work is the cost incurred by an individual in giving up other income-producing work in order to perform household work. The replacement cost of household work is an amount that would have to be paid to replace the work done by the household member, and can be measured by the earning rate of those who perform similar functions in their paid jobs.

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