The mother of an eastern Ontario girl who recovered from childhood cancer is lobbying the government to provide paid compassionate care leave to other parents whose children are very sick.

Sharon Ruth wants the issue to get some attention during the campaign for the Oct. 14 election.

Ruth, who lives in Oxford Station, about 45 kilometres south of Ottawa, is the mother of 12-year-old Colleen Ruth.

Five years ago, when Colleen was fighting cancer, her father quit work to care for her.

Under Canada's Employment Insurance program, workers with family members who have less than six months to live can receive up to six weeks of paid compassionate care leave with job protection, but the Ruth family didn't qualify.

'It hurts the soul, I think, of some parents to actually say, "Can you go stay with my daughter while she's having chemo? Because I need to go to work."'

— Jocelyn Lamont"We have a whole year to bring a well child into the world but we don't have any time to look after them when they get seriously ill," said Sharon Ruth, referring to up to a year of paid maternity leave allowed under the employment insurance program.

Colleen's cancer has since gone into remission, and Ruth has published a book about her family's ordeal called The Guinea Kid: The True Story of a Childhood Cancer Survivor.

Now she is taking the next step — lobbying for the issue to come up during the Canadian election campaign as it has in the U.S. race.

South of the border, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has vowed to help families with paid sick days and better family leave.

"Nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their job and caring for a sick child or ailing parent," he said during his acceptance speech for the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Ruth's effort to get the same kind of attention in Canada is backed by groups such as Candlelighters, which supports families coping with childhood cancer.

"It hurts the soul, I think, of some parents to actually say, 'Can you go stay with my daughter while she's having chemo? Because I need to go to work,'" said Jocelyn Lamont, a spokeswoman for the group.

She said some parents do quit work and resort to going to food banks so they can care for their children at home.

Sharon Ruth said it would be easy to avoid that by expanding compassionate care leave in Canada via an order of council.

"I'm being told that regulations can be changed within a matter of hours, election or no election."

Ruth said a private member's bill to improve compassionate care leave died on Sunday when the election was called. If passed, the bill would have allowed for up to 52 weeks of employment insurance for parents in her situation. It would also have removed the requirement for a letter stating the child would die in six months.