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Support for Canada's family caregivers

As Canada’s population continues to grow and age it faces new health challenges, including a rising number of cancer cases. One in two Canadians is expected to receive a cancer diagnosis in his lifetime, and about 25% will die from the disease, making it our leading cause of death. This is creating a growing burden on families, healthcare providers and our country’s economy. Cancer already costs Canadians more than $17 billion per year.

In this context, it is particularly important that Canada has the policies in place to support Canadians who are coping with cancer and the people who need to take time away from work to help care for them. Family caregivers are the backbone of our healthcare system. According to data from Statistics Canada, in 2012, about 8.1 million individuals (28% of Canadians aged 15 years and older), provided care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, disability or aging needs.

Appropriate support for caregivers is also key if our healthcare system is to deliver more services at home or in the community, an approach that is often preferable to patients and families and that can lower the high costs associated with hospital care.

  • Our position

    The Canadian Cancer Society has been advocating for better support for caregivers for more than 15 years. Over the years, various initiatives have been put forward at the federal level to better support caregivers. Progress has been significant, but gaps still remain.

    The Canadian Cancer Society calls on the federal government to:

    • Implement a national communications plan to ensure that potential beneficiaries are aware of the new 2017 Caregiver Benefit, the extended Compassionate Care Benefit and the EI benefits for Parents of Critically-ill Children
    • Eliminate the mandatory 1-week waiting period to receive the benefits
    • Allow caregivers to continue receiving the Compassionate Care Benefit for a 2-week bereavement period following the death of their loved one (currently the compassionate care benefit ends when the death occurs)
    • Work to improve flexibility criteria for the three EI caregivers benefits by allowing caregivers to receive benefits for partial weeks
    • Work with provincial and territorial governments to ensure Canadians enjoy job protection when they claim an EI caregiver benefit

    The Canadian Cancer Society calls on provincial and territorial governments to:

    • Enact legislation to guarantee job leave protection for all three EI caregiver benefits
  • In the news

    March 2017 - Federal Budget - New Caregiver Benefit

    April 2015 - Federal Budget - Extension of the Compassionate Care Benefit

    August 2012 - New Benefit for Families of Critically Ill Children

    February 2012 - New $40 Million Federal Government Caregiver Tax Credit

    November 2011 - Recommendations from the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care

    February 2011 - Opinion poll on caregivers support

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