Confusion over tax implications of financial support for grandparents serving as primary caregivers needs to be swiftly resolved by the provincial government, says Opposition Leader James Aylward.
“All across Prince Edward Island grandparents are performing valuable service by acting as primary caregivers to loved ones. Doing this already brings unique legal and financial challenges to the caregivers so the last thing we need is to add to those challenges because the proper due diligence wasn’t done beforehand by government. Swift resolution of this issue is needed so that these caregivers are properly supported,” said Opposition Leader James Aylward.
A growing number of Island grandparents and other caregivers are acting as primary caregivers to loved ones unable to live with their parents who otherwise would be in the province’s child protection system. Over the last several years they have advocated for clarity around the legal and policy rules for acting as primary caregivers along with financial supports to help offset costs incurred by these families.
Motions supporting creation of policy and financial supports for Grandparents as primary caregivers were passed unanimously in 2015 and 2017 and a Legislative Standing Committee recommended in 2016 that supports be clarified and improved. In October 2017 government indicated that program options would be reviewed over the next six months. In November 2017 a support program was announced but grandparents seeking to access the supports are discovering that there may be negative tax implications to receiving those supports, including claw back of the Canada Child Benefit.
Don Avery, co-founder of a community support group for grandparents acting as caregivers, says all of the confusion over program rules and tax implications is creating anxiety and frustration when what these families really need is compassion..
“What’s so frustrating is that there’s no consistent messaging about this program. Staff, families and the general public are all being told different things. These details should have been ironed out before this program was launched. My worry is that this will just discourage people from seeking the help they need,” said Avery, who indicated that following a meeting of affected families this week that his group would like to see a temporary pause placed on the program until all outstanding legal, tax and policy issues are resolved and clearly communicated to families, staff and the public.