March 22, 2011: Too many Canadians struggle with caregiving duties that often remove them from them from the labour force, causing both immediate and long-term financial distress. According to a 2008 Statistics Canada report, in 2007, about 2.7 million Canadians aged 45 and over, or approximately one-fifth of the total in this age group, provided some form of unpaid care to people 65 years of age or older who had long-term health problems. These individuals provided vital care, saving the public healthcare system billions of dollars, often at great personal expense.
What we asked for
As the population continues to age, caregiver support will grow in importance to families, the elderly, and our national health system and economy. As such, in our federal pre-budget submission, CARP called on the government to implement a National Family Caregiver Strategy to support the millions of Canadians who are providing informal care to an older loved one by:
Providing them with financial support
Ensuring workplace protection
Formally integrating personal caregiving into health care system
What we got
Today’s budget provided major nod of support for family caregivers. Just mentioning the issue is welcome. However, looking closer, it is simply an additional maximum $300 annually as a non-refundable tax credit provided the caregiver qualifies under the existing categories of caregiver tax credits for live in spouses and parents. If a dependent does not live in the same household, they have to be financially dependent on the caregiver. Importantly, as a non-refundable credit, caregivers at the lowest ends of the earnings spectrum will not benefit from the provision.
Was it enough?
The caregiver support outlined in the budget will help 500,000 family caregivers by giving them up to $300 a year in the form of a tax credit. This is estimated to cost a total of about $160 million per year. While this amount is a step in the right direction, caregivers who have to give up employment – or those who already earn very little – wouldn’t likely benefit from the plan, as the rebate is non-refundable.
Keywords: caregivers, budget, caregiver tax-refund