November 4th 2011: It’s no exaggeration to say that CARP is a hot commodity on the Hill. It’s been a very busy week for CARP VP of Advocacy Susan Eng who was invited to testify three times last week to the Parliamentary Committees on Health and Finance. CARP presented our positions on chronic conditions related to aging, our 2011-12 pre-budget submission, and on the implementation of the 2011 Federal budget.
House of Commons Standing Committee on Health – Implications of Chronic Diseases on Ageing
On Monday October 24th she testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health to discuss the implications of chronic diseases on ageing and share CARP’s recommendations.
CARP recommended a three-part approach to addressing the chronic conditions in an aging population:
1. Comprehensive Homecare and Caregiver Support
2. Access to Primary Care and Drug Management
3. Prevention & Health Promotion
To read a full copy of CARP’s policy submission to the Committee, please click here
To read a copy of the Hansards from the Committee, click here
House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance – pre-budget consultations
On October 31st Susan appeared before House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to present CARP’s Pre-Budget submission for budget 2012 calling for:
- removing mandated RRIF withdrawals, certain OAS clawback rules, improving GIS eligibility rules and providing an equivalent to spouse allowance for single seniors.
- improving PRPPs with fee caps, public sector competition and revisiting targeted benefits
- Comprehensive Homecare and Caregiver Support
To read the full document, click here
Bill 13 Consultations: Keeping Canada’s Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Finally, on November 2nd, Susan returned to Parliament Hill to provide the Finance Committee with CARP’s take on Bill C-13: the Keeping Canada’s Economy and Jobs Growing Act
Bill C-13 contains provisions that are of great relevance to older Canadians. There is movement on issues that CARP has been promoting for years. Amongst other things, Bill C-13 would:
· Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to eliminate the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees unless there is a bona fide occupational requirement;
· Introduces the family caregiver tax credit for caregivers of infirm dependent relatives;
· Removes the $10,000 limit on eligible expenses that can be claimed under the medical expense tax credit in respect of a dependent relative;
Susan presented CARP’s proposed amendment to the Bill which focused on section 23 of Bill 13 which provides for a non-refundable caregiver tax credit. CARP recommended that the tax credit be made refundable and that the amount be increased. Liberal MP Scott Brison proposed an amendment that would have made the credit refundable but it was ruled as beyond the mandate of the Committee because it would have represented new spending. CARP had already recommended that the increase be included in next year’s budget.
You can see Committee minutes, watch a webcast of the consultation and eventually read the transcript via the Committee website by clicking: here
The vast majority of Canadians want to stay in their own homes as long as possible even if they have medical challenges. Not only does this improve their health outcomes but keeps them among their family and friends – all of which adds to their quality of life.
This good social and health policy is also good fiscal policy – a well-integrated and successful home care strategy has the potential of diverting massive amounts of demand from the formal healthcare system. Home care is 40% to 75% less expensive than institutional care.
The Committee was presented with the results of the latest CARP Poll: CARP members appreciated the acknowledgment of family caregivers with the specific non-refundable tax credit proposed and now passed in the recent budget. But they preferred the refundable tax credit or allowance proposed in other platforms.
In the poll last week, 50% of those polled thought that the best way to support caregivers was an income allowance [15%] or refundable tax credit [36%]; only 11% thought the non-refundable tax credit was best.
The committee was advised that it would be possible to limit budget expenditure for such a measure and given examples of existing models the Federal Government might consider emulating like the models currently in place in Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Germany. The tradeoffs, it was explained, were:
- Being able to tap into the value of the unpaid labour now provided by family caregivers is estimated to be $25 billion a year and that;
- Home care is 40%-75% less expensive than institutional care
Future of Bill C-13
The Finance committee undertook a clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-13. Senior officials from the Department of Finance offered technical clarification on various clauses.
Opposition members proposed amendments to clauses regarding the caregiver tax credit, loan forgiveness for working in under-served rural areas and the securities regulatory regime transition office. All proposed amendments were defeated or overruled. The bill was passed by the committee and will be reported back to the House for debate at Report Stage. It will be on the docket for third reading soon.