According to the Ontario Caregiver Coalition (OCC), about three million Canadians were informal caregivers in 2001 and provided more than 80 percent of the care needed by people living with long-term health care issues. As such, the OCC estimates that informal caregivers save the Canadian health care system up to two billion dollars a year.
Although a major criticism in Ontario is the scarcity of grants for caregivers of the elderly, there is some financial assistance available to those who qualify.
Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP-Secondary/Garden Suite)
The RRAP is provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and is available to caregivers and entrepreneurs who wish to create an affordable and self-contained unit for a low-income adult living with a disability or for a senior. The unit can either be a secondary suite--also known as an in-law suite--within the home, or a garden suite--also known as a granny flat--separate from the home but on the same property. The RRAP-Secondary/Garden Suite is a forgivable loan of up to $24,000 in Ontario, and does not have to be repaid provided the homeowner complies with the program’s conditions.
Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program for Persons with Disabilities (RRAP-Disabilities)
The RRAP-Disabilities program offers homeowners and landlords financial assistance to modify their homes in order to make them more accessible to an individual living with a disability. Eligible modifications include those that eliminate physical barriers, increase safety and enhance one’s ability to meet the demands of daily living. The RRAP-Disabilities is a forgivable loan of up to $24,000 in Ontario, and does not have to be repaid provided the homeowner complies with the program’s conditions.
Home Adaptations for Seniors' Independence (HASI)
HASI is also provided by the CMHC, and offers low-income seniors or caregivers of seniors financial assistance to make minor modifications to their homes to increase safety and accessibility. HASI is a forgivable loan of up to $3,500 in Ontario, and does not have to be repaid provided the homeowner complies with the program’s conditions.
Caregiver Amount Tax Credit
The Caregiver Amount Tax Credit is available to Canadians who care for a dependent senior or disabled family member over the age of 18 in their homes. In order to receive this tax credit, the dependent must have a net income of less than $18,534 and be a resident of Canada. In 2009, the maximum claim amount was $4,198 for each dependent.
If a caregiver is in a car accident and, as a result, is unable to fulfill his caregiving role, he may be entitled to caregiver benefits under Ontario’s automobile insurance legislation. To qualify, the caregiver must be insured, living with the dependent, the primary caregiver and not receiving payment for his caregiving duties. In addition, the dependent must be under 16 years of age or living with a disability. Eligible candidates receive $250 per week for the first dependent and $50 a week for each additional dependent for up to 104 weeks. A package can be purchased when buying car insurance that increases this payout to $325 per week for the first dependent and $75 a week for each additional dependent.