Caregiver support, action on dementia care top CARP budget expectations; want to see action on CPP increase, national home care funding and pharmacare too

CANADIAN-PARLIAMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 6, 2014

Toronto, ON: CARP members will be watching for dedicated support for caregivers in next weeks federal Budget along with an end to fees for paper bills, expanded no-cost basic banking and drug safety proposals which were promised in the Throne Speech.

CARP members also want to see real action on the growing onset of dementia, not just more research.

A stand-pat budget is not what CARP members want. When we poll CARP members, they call for leadership in helping Canadians save for retirement, get home care when they need it and get access to affordable drug. These are  the longer term, structural changes that are needed to improve our quality of life as we age, and the most important is our financial security in retirement, said Susan Eng, VP, Advocacy for CARP

The anticipated changes to drug labelling and safety and the end to fees for paper bills, expanded no-cost banking services and specific attention to family caregivers and dementia research are nonetheless welcome since they are direct responses to issues raised by CARP members.

The remaining consumer friendly changes to the retail environment will provide some short term relief for older Canadians. added Eng

CARP VP Advocacy, Susan Eng, will be in the Stakeholder Lockup [Ottawa] on Budget Day February 11, 2014 and will be available for comment afterwards.

 

Caregiver Support

The October 2013 Throne speech promised: Working with employers to better accommodate Canadians caring for older family members.

In pre-budget consultations hosted in January by the Minister for Seniors and Minister of Labour, CARP recommended specific measures to better help employees, usually older workers, with caregiving responsibilities:

  1. Extend the compassionate care leave provision under the Employment Insurance program
  • beyond the current 6 week maximum
  • remove the terminal illness requirement
  • replace with eligibility for caregivers providing heavy care (15+ hours per week).
  1. Grant job protection for employees absent due to caregiving responsibilities in federally regulated industries  [90% of Canadian workers are covered by provincial labour codes]
  2. Increase the caregiver tax credit from the current maximum of $300 and make it refundable to better support lower wage earners and heavy care providers
  3. Provide incentives for employers to provide innovative workplace policies like caregiver leave, group long term care insurance, extending health and dental coverage for part time or flex time employees with caregiving duties

Dementia Care

The Throne Speech also promised: Renew investments in health research to tackle the growing onset of dementia, and related illnesses

CARP will be polling its members this weekend as to the whether dementia has touched their lives and for their input as to what they think should be done to address the dementia care needs. In previous polls, CARP members preferred immediate resources to help families deal with the onset of dementia rather than more research.

Opportunity for Leadership

CARP members, polled about what they wanted to see in the Throne Speech, called for CPP enhancement, pharmacare and national funding and standards of home care.

The refusal of the federal government to agree with the provinces to increase the CPP at the December meeting of finance ministers was a disappointment to CARP members. The Pooled Registered Pension Plans are seen as a poor substitute and are not considered adequate to materially increase savings rates nor provide an adequate pension.

Background Information:

Current Federal Compassionate Care Benefits

Basic Benefits:

  • (EI) benefits paid to people who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill and who has a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (six months).
  • A maximum of six weeks of compassionate care benefits may be paid to eligible people.
  • Maximum payment of $514 per week – Basic benefit rate is 55% of average insurable earnings, up to a yearly maximum insurable amount ($48,600 in 2014).

Care or support of a family member means:

  • providing psychological or emotional support; or
  • arranging for care by a third party; or
  • directly providing or participating in the care.

Eligibility

  • regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40 percent;
  • accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the last 52 weeks, or since the start of last claim.
  • Job Protection not guaranteed must refer to home province/employer

Current Federal Caregiver Tax Credit

  • 15-per-cent non-refundable credit on $2,000
  • Benefitting an estimated 500,000 caregivers
  • It is estimated to reduce federal revenues by $40 million in 201112 and $160 million in 201213.
  • Provides a maximum of $300 per year in tax credits

 

CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.