Federal Budget: Caregiver Commitment and Palliative Care Funding
06 June 2011
A new family caregiver tax credit announced in today’s federal government budget is an important step forward in providing more support for family caregivers, says the Canadian Cancer Society.
“The Society has been leading the way in advocating for more financial support for family caregivers and the tax credit announced today is a good beginning,” says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society. “While the tax credit will provide relief to caregivers of relatives, the federal government and health groups must continue to work collectively so that all family caregivers in Canada get the financial support they need and deserve.”
One in four Canadians has cared for a loved one with a serious illness in the last 12 months. This often results in lost income, as well as the increased financial burden of unforeseen expenses such as transportation, medical equipment and supplies, drugs and more. Demers adds that in a recent Society poll, 88 per cent of Canadians said that providing care or assistance for a family member would have a negative impact on their financial situation.
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.
Revise eligibility criteria: change the terminology for people eligible for benefits from “significant risk of death” to “significant need of caregiving due to a life threatening illness.”
Amend the Canada Labour Code to protect the jobs of caregivers.
Palliative care funding
As an advocate for more funding for, and better coordination of, palliative care services in Canada, the Society also welcomes the $3 million funding announced in the budget to support the development of new community palliative care models.
“This is a step in the right direction in addressing this crucial issue, but much more needs to be done,” says Paul Lapierre, Vice President, Public Affairs and Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society. “Uniform, high-quality support for any person dying of cancer or any other disease should be available no matter where they live. The Society will continue to work on behalf of Canadians on this important issue.”
Lapierre adds that caregiver and palliative care issues must be addressed now because this country’s population is aging and increasingly Canadians will be caring for loved ones who have cancer and other life threatening serious illnesses.
“An effective and compassionate society helps families who are caring for sick loved ones and must make provisions so that dying patients spend their final days with dignity, free of pain and in a setting of their choice,” says Lapierre.
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.