Federal Budget 2017: caregiver support, homecare funding wins

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CARP’s VP of Advocacy, Wanda Morris, was interviewed by CTV News following the Federal Budget announcement.

Ottawa, ON – March 22, 2017: The Federal Liberal government released its 2017 budget and CARP’s VP of Advocacy and COO, Wanda Morris, was in the stakeholder lock-up to see firsthand what the budget has to offer older Canadians. 

CARP is pleased to see action on two areas that have been the focus of active campaigns.  Their calls for action to help caregivers have been met with expanded tax credits and Employment Insurance benefits, and the government has now budgeted the funds to meet its $3 billion, 5 year homecare funding pledge and extend that commitment to $6 billion over 10 years.

Read details on the Expansion of EI Compassionate Care Benefits.

With respect to homecare funding, Wanda Morris noted “Our members have repeatedly told us they want to die at home surrounded by family members, but all too often they are dying in hospital surrounded by tubes.  CARP is pleased to see the government deliver on its homecare funding commitment to help chronically ill and dying Canadians live – and die – at home.”

CARP is pleased that calls for the expansion of EI – to include support for those caring for critically ill loved ones, as well as those who are terminally ill – have been heeded. The new benefit provides up to 15 weeks of EI coverage which can be added to the 26 weeks allowable for caring for terminally ill loved ones if the critically ill patient’s condition worsens.

CARP welcomes the unification of previous Caregiver Credits into one benefit, the increase in allowable income limits of eligible care recipients (from $20,895 to $23,045) and the increase in allowable income for caregivers who are not living with the individual for whom they provide care (from $$13,785 to $23,045). CARP is disappointed however that the credit continues to be ‘ non-refundable’ – that is, only available to offset taxes otherwise payable – so there is no relief for the poorest caregivers or those who give up all paid work to care for loved ones.

Wanda Morris noted, “While many members tell us it’s a privilege to care for their loved ones, that privilege often comes with a heavy physical and emotional burden.  I’m pleased to see some relief for care-givers, but disappointed that more has not been done.  The estimated annual savings to the Canadian healthcare system from family and unpaid caregivers is $26 billion.  I would have liked to see a bit more of that spent on relieving the stress caregivers are under.”

Watch CTV News – Mixed reaction to PM’s plan to keep Old Age Security cut off at 65.

CTV News – Power Play Retirement Age staying at 65. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the retirement age in Canada will stay at 65. CARP VP of Advocacy Wanda Morris discusses.

CARP is pleased to see seniors and vets identified as vulnerable groups prioritized for national housing funding.

CARP welcomes the discussion (included in the budget documents) of the importance of reducing the cost of prescription drugs, but reserves  judgment on how effective additional investments in the Patent Medicine Prices Review Board will be in achieving that objective.

RRIFs

While there is much in the budget to appreciate, CARP is deeply disappointed that the government has failed to remove the mandatory withdrawal limits on RRIFs.

Wanda Morris noted, “At a time of unprecedented longevity and historically low interest rates, and with investment costs that are among the highest in the world, it is deeply disappointing the government hasn’t eliminated mandatory RRIF withdrawals to help Canadian seniors enjoy sustained retirement security.”

Wanda Morris is available for interview. Please contact [email protected] for scheduling interviews.