Manitoba Budget 2009: Contains Limited Relief for Older Adults but the Province Shows Promise with Innovative Caregiver Tax Credit

This year, the government of Manitoba will invest $160 million in social housing. CARP calls on the province to use some of the funding it has allocated to social housing to guarantee additional affordable and supportive housing units for older adults. There will also be some tax relief as the first income bracket is dropped from 10.9% to 10.8%. The middle income bracket threshold will be raised to $31, 000 from 30, 544 and the top income bracket threshold will be raised to $67, 000 from $66, 000.

Unfortunately, the government has chosen to hike pharmacare deductibles. The average person will see their deductibles rise by $60 per person. This hike could be very onerous for a low income Manitobans requiring medication. CARP calls on the government to insulate lower income older Manitobans from this increase.

There are, however, silver linings. The government will continue to fund community housing as well as Safety Aid programs for seniors in rural and northern areas as well as continue to invest in programs that will help reduce wait times such as the Advance Access Initiative (click here to read about the initiative) which has been very successful in reducing the province’s wait times for hip and knee surgery.

The province also promises it will facilitate access to the Primary Caregiver Tax Credit. This is a refundable tax credit that provides up to $1, 020 a year to people who act as primary caregivers for spouses, relatives, neighbours or friends. To be eligible for the credit, the person requiring the care must be assessed at Level 2 or higher under the Manitoba Home Care Program guidelines. A Caregiver may receive the refundable credit for up to three care recipients. Click here for more information on the caregiver credit.

CARP has advocated for the implementation of such direct means of financial support for caregivers and congratulates the Province of Manitoba on the recent implementation of this credit.

“This is a much needed show of support for people who informally support the entire healthcare system. The other Provinces should take notice and follow Manitoba’s example.” Said Susan Eng, CARP VP of Advocacy.