They’re being viewed as an important resource as our population ages and lives longer.
Did you know that April 3 is Caregiver Recognition Day in Manitoba? A first in Canada, this special day focuses on increasing awareness of the contributions of caregivers. Key experts from organizations across Manitoba gather on Caregiver Recognition Day to share information about caregiver supports.
Caregiver Recognition Day is part of the Caregiver Recognition Act, new legislation the province passed in June, 2011. With our aging population and increased longevity, a growing number of family members are acting as caregivers to their loved ones. Most people who require care want to remain living in their family homes and familiar communities for as long as possible. This can often be achieved with the help of caregivers. Caregivers provide a valuable service, but in many cases it may come at a physical, emotional or financial cost to the provider. That is why the province passed the new act. The purpose of the act is to:
• acknowledge the valuable contributions of unpaid caregivers of all ages
• increase recognition and awareness of caregivers
• help guide the development of a framework for caregiver recognition and support
Caregivers’ needs studied
The act sets out general principles outlining how caregivers should be treated by public health staff and in the workplace. It commits government to preparing a progress report every two years, which will highlight caregiver needs and supports in Manitoba. In addition, a caregiver advisory committee is being established to provide me with information, advice and recommendations. I also look forward to upcoming consultations with caregivers, organizations that provide care, government departments, the advisory committee and others for their important feedback.
If you are an informal caregiver, other resources that are available to you are the updated guide for the caregiver as well as the primary caregiver tax credit. This Manitoba tax credit recognizes the significant contribution of people who help enhance the independence and quality of life of family members and friends by helping with tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating meals, transportation, mobility and accessing medical care. The caregiver can claim up to $1,275 (for 2011) per year, per client for up to three clients. The credit is available to caregivers of all income levels.
For more information on the primary caregiver tax credit, or on any other provincial tax credits, please contact the Manitoba tax assistance office at 809-386 Broadway, Winnipeg MB, R3C 3R6; phone 948-2115 in Winnipeg; toll free 1-800-782-0771; email TAO@gov.mb.ca.
Rewards and challenges
Caregiving can be both rewarding and challenging. Caregivers may feel a sense of accomplishment for being able to look after a loved one. They may appreciate being able to strengthen their family bonds, but they may also be juggling their own needs, job responsibilities and personal commitments. The Caregiver Recognition Act is an important step in supporting informal caregivers, so they can enjoy a better balance, good health and well-being. I applaud all caregivers for their good work and encourage Manitobans to recognize and respect them for their very worthy efforts.
If you are caring for an older adult and would like more information, a copy of a guide for the caregiver, or if you have any comments or questions, please contact the Seniors Information Line. Call 945-6565 in Winnipeg; or toll free 1-800-665-6565.
Hon. Jim Rondeau is Minister of Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs.