Canadian Cancer Society highlights importance of new Caregiver Tax Credit

The Canadian Cancer society joined with other Canadian organizations today to applaud the federal government on its new Family Caregiver Tax Credit.

The credit came into effect on January 1, 2012 and allows families taking care of an ill family member to claim an enhanced amount for a dependent under one of the pre-existing dependency tax credits. A 2007 survey showed that 23 per cent of Canadians had cared for a family member or friend facing a serious health issue in the last year.

This tax credit could provide up to $300 per family in 2012.

The Canadian Cancer Society has been an advocate for caregivers for more than a decade, launching a campaign during the last federal election that put a focus on issue.

Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society told the press, “The Harper government has taken an important first step towards supporting family caregivers, the invisible backbone of Canada’s healthcare system. Family caregivers give so much to support their loved ones and it’s unacceptable that they also have to deal with financial difficulties at such a difficult time.”

As the Canadian population ages, more and more of the population will be caring for loved ones who have cancer and other life threatening diseases, making support for caregivers an urgent issue.

Lori Synes-Taraba, a Canadian who cared for her son Brock at home while he went through cancer treatments as an infant, told the press, “This is very welcome news for families with an ill family member. It’s a very stressful and emotional time for families that is made even worse if money is running out.”

“We are pleased to see the federal government maintaining its commitment to family caregivers by mitigating their financial burden through this program. The intensity and length of care-giving can be significant, with 60 per cent of caregivers providing care for more than three years.  Additionally, 41 per cent of Canadians use personal savings to support themselves when caring for loved ones and 22 per cent of these individuals miss one or more months of work,” Nadine Henningsen, President, Canadian Caregiver Coalition noted.

The length and intensity of caregiving can be a significant financial burden on any family, with 60 per cent of caregivers providing care for over three years. Additionally, 41 per cent of Canadians use up personal savings to support themselves while caring for a loved one, and 22 per cent of this group misses one or more months of work in order to provide care.

Other Canadian organizations in support of the new tax credit include the Canadian Caregiver Coalition, the ALS Society of Canada, the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society.

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Photo © F. Young