Canadian Medical Association

New report highlights shortfalls in current tax credits and identifies new solutions to better support seniors and caregivers

Ottawa (ON) – March 7, 2019 – A new study reveals that total private coverage for home care and long-term care in Canada is expected to balloon from $9.6 billion in 2018 to $23.5 billion in 2035. These costs are not covered by our health care system and represent a high financial burden on Canadian seniors, their families and care givers.

The study, Measures to Better Support Seniors and Their Caregivers by the Conference Board of Canada confirms that seniors and their caregivers face out-of-pocket expenses estimated at an average of $5,800 per year., These private costs are projected to significantly outpace the growth of disposable household income. While federal tax credits exist for caregiving and health expenses, the study notes they are largely ineffective in addressing the financial burden facing seniors and their families. These credits are underutilized and insufficient, with only 4.6% of caregivers receiving any support.

“Taking care of seniors comes at a high price for many Canadian families,” says Dr. Gigi Osler, CMA President. “Current programs are inadequate, and the issue will only get worse as our population ages. We must address this and provide the kind of support seniors and their families not only deserve but desperately need.”

The study explored two options that the federal government should consider to better support seniors and caregivers:

  • Refundable tax credits that will boost the federal government’s support to seniors and their caregivers by an estimated $538 million in 2019. This will improve support to individuals, but won’t significantly reduce the financial burden as seniors and their caregivers, as they will still face $7.3 billion in expenses
  • A new Seniors Care Benefit will provide direct financial support to both seniors and caregivers and increase federal reimbursement of private-care spending to $11.8 billion by 2035.

“With seniors aged 65 and over projected to make up nearly a quarter of our population by 2036, demand for health care will rise sharply, putting increased pressure on middle to low income families to help pay for care for their loved ones”, says study author Alan Arcand, Associate Director at The Conference Board of Canada.

The study which was commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association shows that while the federal government offers tax credits to support caregivers and seniors, these credits are currently insufficient in addressing the growing private care costs being carried by seniors and their caregivers, and vastly underutilized by the middle to lower income families that need the support most.