Family caregivers are the backbone of our healthcare system, providing unpaid care estimated at over $25 billion for 2009. Most family caregivers have annual incomes of less than $45,000 and most are women. Family caregivers often become financially, physically and emotionally overwhelmed.
The Canadian Cancer Society has been advocating for better support for caregivers for more than 10 years and has called for a national caregivers strategy.
Our targeted political advocacy efforts have had significant success, including these actions by the federal government:
- January 2009 –passed the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act, allowing self-employed workers to receive compassionate care benefits if they pay into the Employment Insurance program
- February 2012 –announced the Family Caregiver Tax Credit, allowing caregivers to claim a caregiver amount on their tax return
- August 2012 –introduced a new Employment Insurance benefit for parents of critically ill children under 18 years old, allowing caregivers to claim up to 35 weeks of EI benefits
- April 2015 - announced the improvement of the EI Compassionate care benefits from 6 to 26 weeks of benefits to allow family caregivers to take time off work in order to provide care and support to a loved one in palliative care
We will continue to work on minimizing financial burden and to ensure that all Canadians have access to the right care, in the right place, by the right person including good palliative care.