Canada lags behind in caregiver support
According to a new study, Canada lags behind other western countries in the level of financial support it gives to family caregivers
According to a new study, Canada lags behind other western countries in the level of financial support it gives to family caregivers. The international review was conducted as part of the Hidden Costs Invisible Contributions (HCIC) research project. The financial support review was led by Mount Saint Vincent University's (MSVU) Dr. Janice Keefe who found that Australia and the United Kingdom do a better job of financially supporting people looking after a sick relative.
"Most government support in Canada is provided at the provincial level and is aimed at the people who need the care, not those who look after them," says Dr. Keefe, Canada Research Chair in Aging and Caregiving Policy at MSVU. "Recognizing the role of family caregivers and their contributions is important. Many caregivers incur financial expenses or have to stop working to help their loved one, leaving them with no income."
The international review has produced Policy Profiles on caregiver financial support policies in ten countries and these are available at www.msvu.ca/mdcaging. These Profiles are one component of a larger study, titled "Hidden Costs/Invisible Contributions: The Marginalization of Dependent Adults," a major collaborative research initiative funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada under the direction of Dr. Janet Fast, University of Alberta.
"I am committed to do research that makes a difference. By researching cash payments, tax relief, pension programs and labour policy available elsewhere at the national level, we can derive what may be relevant for Canada's caregivers," says Dr. Keefe, who just presented her findings to a national forum in Ottawa sponsored by the Policy Research Initiative.
Currently at the national level in Canada, caregivers only have access to tax relief and a short- term paid work leave to provide palliative care. In Australia and the U.K. caregivers are directly paid a certain amount of money, based on need. The U.K. also recently introduced a state pension for low or no-income caregivers. Such initiatives recognize the important role of caregivers in our society.
"Canada should consider a model that provides immediate and long-term financial support for caregivers," says Dr. Keefe. "This is the way forward. The next step is to examine in greater detail how these policies are administered and whether they will work for Canada."
Dr Keefe's work will be presented at a symposium being organized by the HCIC project team and hosted by Trent University in Peterborough.
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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