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Caregivers and Poverty

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An estimated four million Canadians act as unpaid or informal caregivers to seniors and persons with disabilities. In her June 3 webinar, Sherri Torjman, Vice-President, Caledon Institute of Social …

An estimated four million Canadians act as unpaid or informal caregivers to seniors and persons with disabilities. In her June 3 webinar, Sherri Torjman, Vice-President, Caledon Institute of Social Policy, explores three proposals to protect caregivers from financial ruin: 1) expand Employment Insurance (EI) compassionate care leave; 2) extend Canada Pension Plan (CPP) provisions; and 3) make current tax credits for caregivers refundable.


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  • 1. Caregivers and Poverty
    • Webinar Session
    • Sherri Torjman
    • June 3, 2010
  • 2. Who Are The Caregivers?
    • Caregivers are individuals who provide care and assistance
    • for family members and friends
    • in need of support because of
    • a physical, cognitive or mental health condition.
    • Canadian Caregiver Coalition
  • 3. What Is Caregiving?
    • Caregiving tasks include:
      • personal care such as bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting
      • grocery shopping and meal preparation; laundry; cleaning and home maintenance
      • transportation
      • banking, bill paying and legal transactions
      • brokerage, coordination and navigation
      • ‘ therapeutic’ interventions
  • 4. Caregiving Context
      • Policy rationale:
      • smaller families
      • women in the labour market
      • aging population
      • geographic dispersion of families
      • youth leaving rural areas
  • 5. Caregiver Concerns
      • Identified issues:
      • recognition
      • information and advice
      • accommodation
      • supports and services
      • respite
      • financial pressures
  • 6. Financial Pressures
    • Three ghosts of poverty:
      • income security of care receivers
      • employment status/income of caregivers
      • cost of health- and disability-related supports and services
  • 7. Income Security
      • Key concerns:
      • reliance on social assistance
      • access to Canada/Quebec Pension Plan disability benefit
      • knowledge of Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs)
  • 8. Income Security
    • Policy options:
      • increase/index social assistance
      • ideally, remove disability from social assistance and create new federal income program
      • improve access to the CPP disability benefit
      • inform caregivers of the Registered Disability Savings Plan and its grant and bond components 
  • 9. Employment Status
      • Key concerns:
      • flexibility
      • paid leave
      • current income
      • future income
  • 10. Employment Status
    • Policy options:
      • raise employer awareness about the need for caregiver leave
      • enhance EI Compassionate Care Leave provisions
      • extend Child Disability Benefit/introduce carer allowance
      • expand Canada Pension Plan drop-out provisions
    •  
  • 11. Costs of Caregiving
    • Key concerns:
      • access to goods and services varies by province
      • access to goods and services varies by condition
      • user fees
      • links to social assistance
      • new technologies
  • 12. Costs of Caregiving
    • Costs of caregiving:
      • medical expense tax credit
      • disability tax credit: $7,239 x .15 = $1,086 (reduces taxable income)
      • caregiver tax credit: $4,223 x .15 = $633 (reduces taxable income)
      • infirm dependant tax credit: $4,223 x .15 = $633 (reduces taxable income)
  • 13. Costs of Caregiving
    • Policy options:
      • make refundable the disability, caregiver and infirm dependant tax credits
      • alternatively, convert caregiver and infirm dependant tax credits into a carer allowance
      • invest in the supply of disability supports
      • ensure accommodation for seniors and persons with disabilities
  • 14. Summary of Policy Options
    • 1. Improve income security for persons with disabilities
    • increase/index social assistance
    • ideally, remove disability from social assistance and create new federal income program
    • inform caregivers of the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) and its grant and bond components
    •  
    • 2. Protect caregiver employment/income status
    • educate employers about the need for caregiver leave
    • enhance EI Compassionate Care Leave provisions
    • extend Child Disability Benefit
    • expand Canada Pension Plan drop-out provisions
    •  
    • 3. Reduce the cost of disability supports
    • make refundable the disability, caregiver and infirm dependant tax credits
    • alternatively, convert caregiver and infirm dependant tax credits into a carer allowance
    • invest in the supply of disability supports
    • ensure accommodation for seniors and persons with disabilities
  • 15. Additional Policy Options
      • Selected international measures:
      • paid care leave
      • right to request flexible work
      • carer allowance
      • pension contributions
      • grants for respite
      • support for caregiver organizations
      • support for tele-help and other forms of advice
      • National Caregiving Strategy

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