CARP to Minister of Seniors: We need tax credits for home care

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) has written a letter to the Minister of Seniors, Seamus O’Regan, who spoke at CARP’s recent CARP Annual General Meeting.

Bill VanGorder provided a briefing note for the minister which details CARP’S advocacy asks with respect to tax credits for individuals purchasing home care services. He highlighted the relevance of these demands in the context of the remarks by the Honourable Seamus O’Regan regarding his commitment to the concerns and needs of older adults across Canada.

CARP believes that this tax credit initiative has the potential to make a substantial difference in the lives of seniors who wish to age comfortably in their own homes while receiving the necessary care and support.

Read the CARP letter and briefing notes here.

CARP is asking the federal government to take a leadership role in this issue.

The recommendation to enable and recognize family funded home care has been addressed in part by the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit, the Ontario Seniors Care at Home Tax Credit and the Tax Credit for Home-Support Services for Seniors in Quebec. A request for a similar tax credit has been made to the British Columbia provincial government. The challenges with the existing credits are the stringent qualify criteria and awareness.

Proposal: This proposal calls on the Minister of Seniors to champion family caregivers who deliver care directly or who use their own funds to purchase home care services can promote and facilitate aging at home – a goal shared by most seniors and thus a responsive and fitting recommendation from the federal Minister of Seniors. This could be accomplished through tax levers including:

  • making the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit a refundable tax credit, with fewer restricting criteria
  • establishing a tax rebate for people who retain home care services.
  • exempting family funded home care services from GST
  • incentivizing provinces to match federal leadership on the support of families who provide care directly or by using personal funds to retain reputable1 independent home care.

As the population ages, there is a growing demand for home care services to support older people who want to remain independent at home as a crucial element to maintaining their quality of life.

96% of CARP members tell us they want to age in place, and nearly a quarter have admitted to supplementing publicly funded home care with private alternatives.

As well, a 2023 poll by CARP with almost 3900 found that:

  • 44% of respondents were unaware that home care is not publicly insured through the Canada Health Act.
  • 33% did not know that they can purchase home care services to add on to what is received through the government.
  • 57% of respondents receiving publicly funded home care had unmet needs and 46% of those individuals had their additional needs met by family, while and 28% were not able to have their needs met at all.

CARP is urging governments to recognize that home care and community-based care solutions are critical to resolving the long-term care crisis.

Ensuring seniors have access to adequate, publicly subsidized home support is important for an aging population. However, providing seniors with choice as to who and how their home support is provided is paramount. Commonly, family paid home support provides seniors and their families with more flexibility and greater ability to ensure that they can focus on the things that will really help them stay independent for as long as possible. Acknowledging seniors and their families through a tax credit to offset costs incurred through hiring a home care provider also helps to ensure that the publicly subsidized care remains accessible to those who need it most.

Recommendation: The Federal Government must convene a working group to further analyse options and implementation strategies to introducing a tax credit for private home care services.

Read more about CARP’s work on home and community care here.