BC has a robust representation of talented MPs in the federal government to whom we had the privilege of presenting our In-Home SLC Policy Working Group recommendations on January 26th.
Despite being last on the agenda for the day, a time when one might think the members were on “over-load” and ready to head home, we had a very respectful, attentive and interactive audience, for which we were truly appreciative. Our topic was not unfamiliar to many of those present.
Chairperson, MP Randeep Sari, Surry Centre, kicked off the discussion part of our presentation by letting us know he is on the Immigration Committee and providing information on how the government is clearing the backlog of permanent residency applications filed by Caregivers; an achievement the government aims to complete by the end of 2017, after which time it is expected Caregiver applications will rise to previous levels of about 15,000 per year.
MP Dan Ruimy, Pitt Meadows Maple Ridge, is a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee that prepared the report on Temporary Foreign Workers submitted in September, 2016. We had hoped to have our recommendations considered by this committee. Having Dan hear our presentation and to give him copies or our report was a very positive outcome. Dan described some of the challenges in obtaining and responding to input from depositions. We think our recommendations, coming from an objective third party and based on demographic and healthcare demands are worthy of consideration by the committee.
Linking to the startling information we shared in our report on changing demographics, not only in BC but across Canada where the population age 65 + is increasing at 4 times that of the rest of the population, MP Ron McKinnon, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam noted that earlier in the meeting he suggested to Caucus that they consider establishing non-partisan Senior Advisory groups within the MPs office to obtain input on issues of importance to seniors.
MP Ken Hardie, Fleetwood Port Kells, is no stranger to the SLC as a former President, and he commented favourably on the work of the SLCBC and the report.
Stephen Fuhr, who has championed our work and enabled our presentation at this meeting, committed to taking responsibility for speaking to the appropriate Ministers to pave the way for discussions with Ministers staff and ensure our recommendations are not lost in the ‘in-basket’. Stephen noted the value of having linked our paper to commitments made by the government in the 2015 Platform for dealing with issues of homecare and caregivers (see excerpts below that we had included in the report and presentation).
“Viewing the Live-In Caregiver program as a cornerstone and first step in a continuum of care options for the aged makes a great deal of sense”, says Fuhr, “and also provides a means for Ministers to meet their mandate commitments on these issues.”
In our presentation we emphasized the potential cost-savings of freeing up the 15% of acute care beds currently occupied by seniors awaiting other care options estimated to be 2.3 billion annually.
Lastly, a couple of MP staff members thanked us for the presentation saying they often have inquiries about the Live-In Caregiver program and learned a great deal from the presentation.
Included in the 2015 Liberal platform are these commitments to having an effective In-Home Caregiver program:
A New Health Accord (page 12): “As an immediate commitment, we will invest $3 billion over the next 4 years, to deliver more and better home care services for all Canadians. This includes more access to high quality in-home care givers, financial supports for family care, and, when necessary, palliative care.”
Quality of Service (page 48): “Busy Canadians deserve better service from their government. We will establish new performance standards, including streamlining applications, reducing wait times, and offering money-back guarantees.”
Hiring Caregivers (page 63): “We will make it easier and more affordable for families to hire caregivers. Canadian families looking for caregivers to help family members with physical or mental disabilities must pay a $1000 Labour Market Impact Assessment fee...we will eliminate that fee. We will also work with provinces and territories to develop a system of regulated companies to hire caregivers on behalf of families. This will make it simpler for families to hire caregivers, and protect caregivers by allowing caregivers to change employers in the case of bad relations or abuse.”
2016 Biennial Policy Resolution
The “Palliative and Home Care” resolution approved during the 2016 Biennial Policy Plenary requests the government implement a national program of home and palliative care. While the In-Home Caregiver program is not specifically mentioned, such a program is a critical component of an effective home and palliative care program.
House of Commons Standing Committee Report on the TFWP
In September 2016, the House of Commons Standing Committee for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities released their report with recommendations to enhance the TFWP. The committee received a number of depositions from several witnesses familiar with the In-Home Caregiver program. However, the final report was largely silent on the In-Home Caregiver program and fell short of addressing our intervenors concerns. We would welcome consideration of our report in the government’s response to the recommendations of the Standing Committee.