Ignatieff’s home care policy is forward-thinking

Canadian politics these days have been seen as bankrupt of ideas and focused solely on hyper-partisan chest thumping and debates on what politician is more Canadian than the other. In this context Michael Ignatieff’s recent policy announcement regarding support for home care is a forward-looking, dare we say, visionary policy.

The Liberal Party announced its commitment to a new refundable family care tax benefit of up to $1,350; it is estimated 600,000 families would be eligible, costing approximately $750 million.

The second plank is a family care benefit under the Employment Insurance program, which will benefit 30,000 families at a cost of $250 million a year. Both of these policies are designed to make it easier for families to take care of their elders. It falls short of a comprehensive national plan, but it is a step in the right direction.

The fact is that health care is soon to be in crisis. With the baby boomers retiring and health care costs sky-rocketing, there simply won’t be enough beds in long-term care homes to adjust.

Even now, overflow of long-term care facilities sends the elderly to costly care in more expensive hospital beds causing a significant drain on the system. Making it easier for Canadians to take care of their elders at home will go a long way to helping ease the crisis.

There is some concern about funding through cancelling corporate tax cuts, given the fragility of the Canadian economy.

Rolling back the meaningless GST cuts would probably be more effective and less economically damaging. All in all though Ignatieff is on the right track. Finally, we will have some meaningful dialogue on health reform in Canada.

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