moved for leave to introduce Bill C-203, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (in-home care of relative).
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reintroduce a bill that I brought forward in the last Parliament, which would make a profoundly positive difference for thousands of Canadians who are the primary caregivers for their spouses.
In many ways, my bill is a fitting complement to the government's enhanced family caregiver tax credit that was announced in its recent budget. Despite the newly increased amount, it still remains the case that spouses are excluded from receiving this benefit. Frankly, that is outrageous.
Every conceivable relative of a person living with disabilities can apply, including a child, grandchild, brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, parent or grandparent. Not included is the one person who is most likely to provide care on an ongoing basis, the spouse. That is patently unfair and undervalues the caregiving that spouses provide every day of every week of every year.
A quarter of Canadians provide informal care to a family or friend with a serious health problem every year. More than 75% of these caregivers are women. The Canadian Caregivers Association estimates that caregivers contribute $5 billion of unpaid labour per year to the health care system, which represents an enormous savings to federal and provincial governments.
Making spouses eligible for the caregiver amount is a small step forward. It would send a strong signal that the federal government recognizes the exceptional contribution that spouses make as caregivers and would provide a new support for them to help a loved one who is in need of care to live with dignity and as much independence as possible.