More than 8 million Canadians act as caregivers for family or friends. These caregivers quietly make up the backbone of health care for Canadians as they age.
But who cares for the caregivers?
Too often, these incredible people carry the burden of care with too few supports. While CARP is advocating for greater financial and emotional supports and more resources for caregivers, there do exist some resources provided by governments across Canada.
The government of Canada offers an ‘Information for Caregivers’ portal that houses information for those who provide care to seniors. Resources about provincial and municipal financial and social support programs are accessible by province and territory.
Family Caregiver Tax Credit
The Family Caregiver Tax Credit is a non-refundable credit that provides tax relief to those who care for a person who is dependent on the individual because of impairment in mental or physical functions. The family caregiver amount is not tied to the disability tax credit.
Take the government’s online quiz to help identify if you qualify.
You can also read more about the Family Caregiver Tax Credit.
Employment Insurance (EI) Compassionate Care Benefits
As of January 3rd, 2016 the Employment Insurance (EI) Compassionate Care Benefits were extended from 6 to up to 26 weeks. This will help provide Canadian caregivers financial support for long term caregiving for terminally ill family members. These benefits can also be taken within an expanded period of 52 weeks (up from 26 weeks) and can be shared between family members.
Click here to learn more about these expanded benefits.
To learn more about provincial and other federal tax benefits, visit the Canada Benefits website. It is a useful tool where individuals view available tax credits and programs based on their individual circumstance. Here is the link where you can find out more information: http://www.canadabenefits.gc.ca/.
Notable provincial programs:
Manitoba’s Primary Caregiver Tax Credit provides a refundable credit of up to $1,400 a year to people who act as primary caregivers for spouses, relatives, neighbours or friends who live at home in Manitoba.
In Nova Scotia, the government has initiated a Caregiver Benefit Program that offers up to $400/month to care recipients with low income.
Providing a flexible work environment is one way to support caregivers. Since April 29th, 2014, the Ontario government has enacted legislation that provides job protection for family caregivers.
The Employment Standards Amendments Act (Leaves to Help Families), 2014, is legislation that allows family caregivers to take up to eight weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave from work to care for loved ones living with chronic conditions.
The Quebec government offers a refundable tax credit for caregivers of a spouse or eligible relative. Tax credits of up $925 are available for people who care for a spouse and up to $1154 for caregivers of an eligible relative.