Eight million Canadians are caregivers, providing critical care to loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, and other pressing health needs. These caregivers work in an informal, unpaid capacity, and bear a tremendous emotional, mental, and financial burden while helping to keep people out of hospitals. They face challenges such as job loss, reduced income, and high levels of stress due to the demands of caregiving.
CARP has long called for the federal government to recognize the valuable work informal caregivers do to ensure older Canadians live safely and comfortably. CARP supports a comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of caregivers, including financial support, workplace protection, respite care, funding for home care programs, and integrated training and support via the formal health care system.
In the weeks leading up to the election, federal parties have made commitments to Canadians who provide care, promising to extend financial support and expand access to programs which support caregivers. On this page, you can read more about each party’s promises, and learn more about CARP’s vision for truly comprehensive caregiver support.
To see where the parties line up on other CARP issues, click here to read our campaign platform comparison chart.
In their 2015 federal budget, the Conservative Party made notable changes to the Compassionate Care Benefits program. Caregivers may now claim up to 26 weeks of benefits, a number over four times the previous 6 week maximum. These benefits are no longer limited to one recipient, and can be shared between family members providing care. This is a significant advancement for caregivers, especially older workers who have to leave the workforce to provide care, relieving families of the financial burden of caregiving and providing more flexibility as they go through one of the most difficult times. Only those providing care for terminally ill patients, however, are eligible to receive benefits.
The Liberal Party has pledged to expand the Compassionate Care Benefits program, with the goal of making benefits more accessible, flexible, and inclusive. The party’s plan, which would cost an estimated $190 million annually, would provide benefits to any Canadian providing care to a seriously ill family member. Those providing care for patients without terminal illnesses would become eligible to receive benefits, and those whose caregiving responsibilities extend beyond evenings and weekends would no longer be excluded from the program.
New Democratic Party
The New Democratic Party has pledged to launch a new Caregiver Tax Credit, modeled after the Child Disability Benefit, to support informal caregivers looking after loved ones at home. In addition to introducing this benefit, the party would also increase existing Compassionate Care Benefits and offer financial support to those who renovate their homes to accommodate and house recipients of care. Benefits would be available not only to those caring for the terminally ill, but to caregivers looking after loved ones with non-terminal illnesses. In total, the party plans to invest $200 million annually in financial support for caregivers.
As a part of their National Seniors Strategy, the Green Party has pledged to expand tax rebates and workplace protection for family caregivers. The party has also promised to expand home support and assisted living services for seniors with chronic care needs, with the ultimate goal of ensuring caregivers can continue to safely and comfortably support older Canadians in their own homes and communities.