Federal parties ignoring 64% of voters by not addressing their priorities such as support for family caregivers says CARP



    TORONTO, Sept. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - After reviewing the party platforms,
CARP finds that the federal parties fail to address the priorities of
Canadians who are 45 years of age or more and calls for a Universal Family
Caregiver Benefit that mirrors the Universal Child Care Benefit.
    "Canadians 45 and over are the largest and most politically engaged
demographic - 70% of them vote regularly and in 2004, they cast
9 million votes, or 64% of all votes cast in that election. Why would the
politicians ignore them?" asks Susan Eng, Vice President, Advocacy of CARP.
    "Yet, the party websites and now their platforms continue to skirt the
issues that matter to their most active voters so we will keep reminding them
of what counts to us." added Eng.
    CARP submitted a question for the National Leaders' Debate to be held
October 1st and 2nd asking for their response to its call for a Universal
Family Caregiver Benefit. Specifically, CARP asked the parties to commit to a
Universal Family Caregiver Benefit to support the Family Caregiver and to
allow people to stay in their homes as they age. The benefit should mirror the
Universal Child Care Benefit currently provided to Canadian families with
youngsters.
    "Canadians recognize the need to support families with young children and
similarly expect the same value to be placed on caring for loved ones later in
life", said CARP in its submission.
    It is estimated that there are 5 million Canadians caring for loved ones
at home. A disproportionate number of these people are women and visible
minorities. The current system of financial supports for Family Caregivers is
inadequate and falls far behind what is available in other developed
countries.
    "Family caregivers are the most important yet most undervalued resource
on the care continuum. Canada lags behind Australia, the United Kingdom, and
many Scandinavian countries in the development of caregiver programs, cost
incentive packages and respite services that enable families to continue
increasingly sophisticated care and clinical regimes. All political parties
must address the inequities and lack of tangible support for caregivers in
this country", said Dr Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International
Federation on Ageing formerly of the International Caregiving Alliance.
    "Family caregivers are the invisible backbone of the health and long term
care system contributing over $5 billion of unpaid care. We have seen from the
front lines that without Family caregivers, the formal healthcare will not be
able cope", said Nadine Henningsen, President of the Canadian Caregivers
Coalition and Executive Director of the Canadian Home Care Association.
    "Support for Family Caregivers is one of the priorities for the over
60,000 members of the Retired Teachers of Ontario and our federal
counterparts", said Harold Brathwaite, Executive director of the Retired
Teachers of Ontario.
    The NDP announced a comprehensive Home Care program but there are no
details and they include a major escape clause that they must negotiate with
the provinces. In fact, many of the income supports recommended by CARP are
completely within federal jurisdiction.
    The Green Party platform also mentions a National Home Care Policy
without details and gives the same nod to federal-provincial collaboration,
which from a results point of view is discouraging.
    The Conservative platform allows income splitting for a family caring for
someone with a disability and makes some improvements to their previously
announced Registered Disability Savings Program which is not yet available.
Subject to clarification on the details, these proposals would be available
only in respect to those who qualify as "disabled" which excludes a great
number of people who need family caregivers. Further, income splitting is a
welcome option for families but it does nothing to alleviate the burden of
those who are hit the hardest by caregiving obligations: single women.
    The Liberals would make the Disability Tax Credit refundable which CARP
supports but it is also limited to the "disabled" and there should be a much
more comprehensive strategy in place to support the family caregiver.
    CARP will continue to deliver its message to the federal politicians on
the campaign trail on the issues that matter the most to the
14.5 million Canadians 45 years of age and more, who represent 42% of the
Canadian population.

    CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to
advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada which means social change that
will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom
from discrimination; ensuring that the marketplace serves the needs and
expectations of our generation and providing value-added benefits, products
and services to members; and building a sense of community and shared values
among our members in support of CARP's mission.




For further information:

For further information: Michelle Taylor, Communications Coordinator for
Susan Eng, Vice President Advocacy, CARP, A New Vision of Aging for Canada,
(416) 363-7023 ext 236, www.carp.ca; Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General,
International Federation on Ageing, (514) 396-3358; Harold Brathwaite,
Executive Director, Retired Teachers of Ontario, (416) 962-9463 ext 222;
Nadine Henningsen, President of the Canadian Caregivers Coalition and
Executive Director of the Canadian Home Care Association, (613) 569-1585


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