As a caregiver, you are probably wondering what financial support and assistance is available to you. Depending on your caregiving situation, you may be thinking about resources that will be needed over the next several years, or you may be thinking about short-term needs such as transportation or assistive devices (this is a fancy description for wheelchairs, walkers, and other aids to help with mobility and independence).
Not surprisingly, many caregivers in Canada experience financial stress associated with providing care for someone, whether it’s a person with a disability, an older adult, or a family member or friend with an illness. In fact, lack of funding and financial assistance is one of the biggest pain points that Canadian caregivers have identified. Caregivers often ask if there is a monthly income or allowance available to them. Currently, Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada that has such an allowance (known as The Caregiver Benefit Program).
Financial assistance from the government for caregivers in Canada is mainly in the form of federal tax credits and insurance benefits.
Federal Tax Credits and Insurance Benefits
Here are steps you can take to minimize financial stress for both you as a caregiver and the person you’re caring for:
- Learn about the federal government's Compassionate care Benefit (CCB) program. Employment Insurance benefits and job protection are provided to eligible family members for up to twenty-eight weeks while caring for someone.
- Claim the Canada Caregiver Credit when you file your income tax.
- Consider an application for the Disability Tax Credit. A person with a “severe and prolonged” impairment in physical or mental function may claim the disability amount once they are eligible. Caregivers of dependents or spouses/common law partners may be eligible to have the disability tax credit amount transferred to their own tax return.
- Reach out to the local constituency office of your provincial government (MPP, MNA or MLA) or federal Member of Parliament (MP) for the most up–to-date provincial and federal assistance available to you (the staff will also guide you and help you with applications, if needed).
Additional Programs & Funding
If the person in your care requires special equipment or assistive devices such as a wheelchair or walker, the following programs can help:
- The Home & Vehicle Modification Program is funded by the Government of Ontario and administered by March of Dimes Canada to help Ontarians whose mobility and daily living activities are substantially restricted by an injury, birth defect, or long-term illness. If you live in British Columbia, PEI, Quebec, or Manitoba, click here to learn about similar programs available to you.
- For more than 50 years, the Canadian Red Cross has been offering the Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP). This program is available to residents of British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Yukon.
- The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Assistive Devices Program provides financial assistance to purchase medical equipment and supplies for those who qualify.
- Ceridian Cares provides grants for not only assistive devices, but also clothing and footwear, food and basic household needs, and personal development and recreation to those who qualify.
- We recommend contacting national disease/illness-specific organizations (such as Muscular Dystrophy Canada, The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Canada) for funding that that may provide.
- Individual or local branches of national charitable organizations may provide funding for assistive devices. You can use the national websites to access the contact information for local clubs. Each club or local branch may have different offerings and application processes.
The Importance of Financial Planning
Preparing for the future involves setting money aside for future health care needs. Here’s how you can start preparing:
- Both the federal government and a few financial institutions have handy tools that can help caregivers calculate potential expenses related to caregiving and retirement. Taking advantage of these free resources will give you a better understanding of your financial situation now and can help you prepare for the future.
You don’t need to be a customer of either banking institution to use these tools — check with your own bank to see if they offer similar tools and services.
- Look into credit counselling services. These services include not only retirement planning, but also solutions for credit, debt, and money management. Credit Counselling Canada is the national association of not-for-profit credit counselling agencies that work provincially, regionally, and locally throughout Canada.
- Start an emergency fund, if possible, in case you need to pay for unexpected caregiving costs, reduce your working hours, or take an unpaid leave of absence from work.
Government and charitable organization programs often change and evolve. It is a good idea to regularly check the above websites for the latest in financial assistance and support.
At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908. Call (866) 928-2094 — we can help!