The Minister for Seniors was asking questions and taking note of the answers Tuesday as she led a consultation about caregivers.

At a session at Laval University family caregivers shared the challenges they face when caring for elderly family members, children with disabilities, or others who cannot function solely on their own.

Many said they face financial problems, suffer from burnout, and in general feel undervalued.

Lucy Barylak spent years caring for her sick mother. 

"When you meet a caregiver no matter what profession you are - whether it's a doctor and you walk in - why don't you turn and ask, 'And how are you doing?' Nobody ever asked me that. Nobody ever asked me...At that point I had kids at home, I was married, full time job - and caring for my mother as an only child,' said Barylak.

Marguerite Blais is passionate about caregiving, having been a caregiver herself for her late husband.

A former cabinet minister in the Liberal government led by Jean Charest, Blais retired from politics in 2015 following the death of her husband.

She said the experience showed her firsthand how people who care for family members need to get more support from the community and from the government.

"I was a caregiver myself. I was tired, I didn't know where to get respite. I didn't ask for respite. And very often people are dying before the person that they are helping, and we have to stop this type of situation," said the Minister for Seniors.

She returned to politics this year when Coalition Avenir Quebec leader Francois Legault said that if elected, she would be able to create the kind of program she desired.

Blais is now leading a series of public hearings and other sessions to help change the government's policies to assist the 1.6 million caregivers in Quebec who need support.

Reaching the breaking point

Claire Webster spent years caring for her mother after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and she found it very difficult.

"I had no idea what the disease was, no idea how it was going to progress, how to plan for this disease, and most importantly how it was going to impact my life," said Webster.

It ultimately drove her to a nervous breakdown.

"July of 2011, I sat in our driveway and I called my husband and I said I wanted to take my life because I couldn't keep those balls in the air anymore. The stress. The overwhelming sense of responsibility. All the decisions that had to be made," said Webster.

The Minister knows firsthand about reaching the breaking point, which is why she is creating a new policy.

"We need to have a medical plan for the caregiver, as well as we have a medical plan for the person who is sick. So if we see that the caregiver is getting sick, we're going to be able to help the caregiver. That's very, very important," said Blais.

While her ordeal is over, Webster is hopeful that other caregivers will have an easier time and will ask for help.

"The big challenge for caregivers is that we think we're superheroes. We think that we've invincible. we're doing everything possible wanting to take care our of loved one, but we're forgetting about ourselves," said Webster.

Blais hopes to have a new policy ironed out in the next few months and to begin implementing it in the spring.