TORONTO, March 22, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new family caregiver tax credit announced in today's federal government budget is a good start in providing more support for all family caregivers, says the Canadian Cancer Society.
"We welcome the tax credit and other measures in the budget as a step in the right direction," says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society. "But looking forward, we need to continue to work collectively to ensure more is done so that all family caregivers in Canada get the financial support they need and deserve."
One in four Canadians has cared for a loved one with a serious illness in the last 12 months. This often results in lost income, as well as the increased financial burden of unforeseen expenses such as transportation, medical equipment and supplies, drugs and more. Demers adds that in a recent Society poll, 88 per cent of Canadians said that providing care or assistance for a family member would have a negative impact on their financial situation.
The Society has been advocating for better financial support for family caregivers through improvements to the Compassionate Care Benefit, which is administered by the federal employment insurance program. These improvements include:
Timeframe for financial benefits: Increase the benefit period from the current six weeks to 26 weeks, accessible during a 52-week period.
More flexibility: allow people to claim benefits for partial weeks taken over a longer period, rather than blocks of weeks at a time.
Revise eligibility criteria: change the terminology for people eligible for benefits from "significant risk of death" to "significant need of caregiving due to a life threatening illness."
Amend the Canada Labour Code to protect the jobs of caregivers.
The Society also believes that a non-taxable, monthly Family Caregiver tax benefit should be established to help family caregivers with costs.
"We need to address this issue now because this country's population is aging and increasingly Canadians will be caring for loved ones who have cancer and other life threatening serious illnesses," says Demers. "An effective and compassionate society helps families who are caring for sick loved ones."
The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join the fight! Go to www.ifightcancer.ca to find out how you can help. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.