Federal parties ignoring 64% of voters by not addressing their priorities

such as support for family caregivers says CARP

Toronto, ON, September 23, 2008: After reviewing the party platforms, CARP finds that the federal parties fail to address the priorities of Canadians who are 45 years of age or more and calls for a Universal Family Caregiver Benefit that mirrors the Universal Child Care Benefit.

“Canadians 45 and over are the largest and most politically engaged demographic – 70% of them vote regularly and in 2004, they cast 9 million votes, or 64% of all votes cast in that election. Why would the politicians ignore them?” asks Susan Eng, Vice President, Advocacy of CARP.

“Yet, the party websites and now their platforms continue to skirt the issues that matter to their most active voters so we will keep reminding them of what counts to us.” added Eng.

CARP submitted a question for the National Leaders’ Debate to be held October 1st and 2nd asking for their response to its call for a Universal Family Caregiver Benefit. [A summary of CARP’s recommendations for a National Family Caregiver Strategy is attached]. Specifically, CARP asked the parties to commit to a Universal Family Caregiver Benefit to support the Family Caregiver and to allow people to stay in their homes as they age. The benefit should mirror the Universal Child Care Benefit currently provided to Canadian families with youngsters.

“Canadians recognize the need to support families with young children and similarly expect the same value to be placed on caring for loved ones later in life”, said CARP in its submission.

It is estimated that there are 5 million Canadians caring for loved ones at home. A disproportionate number of these people are women and visible minorities. The current system of financial supports for Family Caregivers is inadequate and falls far behind what is available in other developed countries.

“Family caregivers are the most important yet most undervalued resource on the care continuum. Canada lags behind Australia, the United Kingdom, and many Scandinavian countries in the development of caregiver programs, cost incentive packages and respite services that enable families to continue increasingly sophisticated care and clinical regimes. All political parties must address the inequities and lack of tangible support for caregivers in this country”, said Dr Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing formerly of the International Caregiving Alliance.

“Family caregivers are the invisible backbone of the health and long term care system contributing over $5 billion of unpaid care. We have seen from the front lines that without Family caregivers, the formal healthcare will not be able cope”, said Nadine Henningsen, President of the Canadian Caregivers Coalition and Executive Director of the Canadian Home Care Association.

“Support for Family Caregivers is one of the priorities for the over 60,000 members of the Retired Teachers of Ontario and our federal counterparts”, said Harold Brathwaite, Executive director of the Retired Teachers of Ontario.

The NDP announced a comprehensive Home Care program but there are no details and they include a major escape clause that they must negotiate with the provinces. In fact, many of the income supports recommended by CARP are completely within federal jurisdiction.