PSC makes federal pre-budget submission to support Canadians with Parkinson’s

Parkinson Society Canada is pleased to share our 2014 Pre-Budget Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance.

The Government of Canada invited Canadians to participate in the pre-budget consultation process to support the development of the 2015 Federal Budget. Suggestions and proposals received during the consultation period will be compiled into a pre-budget report by the Finance Committee and presented to the Minister of Finance for consideration. In collaboration with our national coalition partners, PSC made two recommendations to better support Canadians affected by Parkinson’s disease.

1. Increased Support for Caregivers

For Parkinson’s caregivers, there is little income support or job projection due to the restrictive eligibility criteria for Compassionate Care Benefits. It is currently only available to caregivers of family members who are gravely ill and have a significant risk of death. Due to the neurodegenerative nature of Parkinson’s, identifying when a person will require palliative care is not predictable.

The expansion of the Compassionate Care Benefits program will help alleviate financial stress and enable all caregivers to provide vital support to Canadians living with health conditions.

Parkinson Society Canada fully supports Health Charities Coalition of Canada’s recommendation for the Government of Canada to expand the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits by:

  • Extending eligibility to caregivers who are providing support to those who require care due to a serious chronic or episodic medical condition
  • Increasing the benefit period from 6 to 26 weeks within a 52 week period
  • Broadening eligibility criteria to allow for partial weeks over a longer period
  • Eliminating the mandatory two week waiting period to receive benefit

2. Genetic Fairness Legislation

It is a well-established principle that individuals shall not be discriminated based on disability. However, outdated laws still enable insurance companies to discriminate based on perceived disability or the prospect of future disability. Insurance companies can use genetic information to unfairly determine eligibility, set premiums and manage risks. Individuals may be rejected for employment and access to insurance coverage based on a perceived future disability.

For the Parkinson’s community, there is a 5-10% genetic/familial link for people living with Parkinson’s disease (i.e. brother/sister; parent/child). People with a family history of Parkinson’s are being denied insurance based on a perceived future disability. In addition, genetics is a vital area of Parkinson’s research to find a cure and better treatments, but many are reluctant to participate in genetic research because they fear discrimination from both employers and the insurance industry.

Parkinson Society Canada reiterates the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness’ request for immediate action and recommends the Government of Canada enact legislation and policy measures to protect Canadians against genetic discrimination.

We will continue to monitor the progress of the pre-budget consultation process to ensure the Parkinson’s perspective is well reflected in the 2015 Federal Budget. For more detailed information, view our full pre-budget submission here.