Canadians Send Clear Signal That Family Caregivers Need More Help
08 February 2011
A large majority of Canadians – 88 per cent – say that providing care or assistance for a family member would have a negative impact on their financial situation, according to a poll released today by the Canadian Cancer Society. And of those 88 per cent, 57 per cent say it would have a major negative impact.
Poll results also show that:
“Many caregivers suffer financial difficulties as they deplete personal savings and take unpaid time off from work to care for a family member,” says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society. “Canadians are greatly concerned about this issue and are looking to our federal political parties for solutions.”
This is an issue that demands action now as Canada’s population is aging and increasingly Canadians will be caring for loved ones who have cancer and other serious illnesses.
“Currently some government support exists for family caregivers, but it’s simply not adequate,” says Demers. “We urge the government to pay attention to the clear messages being sent by Canadians and to include more financial support for family caregivers in the upcoming federal budget.”
As political parties prepare for the next federal election, the Society will be reminding them that caregiving is an important family issue and financial support for caregivers should be included in their election platforms.
“This would show Canadians – especially women who are affected most by this issue – that politicians are listening to their concerns,” says Demers. “Canadians should consider voting for the party that commits to providing more support for family caregivers. An effective and compassionate society helps families who are caring for sick loved ones.”
The Society has been advocating for better financial support for family caregivers through improvements to the Compassionate Care Benefit, which is administered by the federal employment insurance program. These improvements include:
Timeframe for financial benefits: Increase the benefit period from the current six weeks to 26 weeks, accessible during a 52-week period.
More flexibility: allow people to claim benefits for partial weeks taken over a longer period, rather than blocks of weeks at a time.
The Society also believes that a non-taxable, monthly Family Caregiver tax benefit should be established to help family caregivers with costs;
Snapshot of Canadian family caregiver
The following information comes from reports about caregivers and Statistics Canada.
Between 2002 and 2007 the number of family caregivers in Canada, aged 45 years and older, increased by 30 per cent (over 670,000 people). In 2007, the number of family caregivers, aged 45 years and older, was 2.7 million.
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.