Canadian government creates a ‘basic income’ for veterans’ families

Roderick Benns

Florence is a 28 year old woman who takes care of her grandfather, a veteran who continues to live at home. Florence is not receiving compensation for the care she is providing, which includes daily supervision, cooking, maintaining the home and running errands.

The new Caregiver Recognition Benefit from the Canadian government will provide Florence with the monthly amount of $1,000 paid directly to her in acknowledgement of the care and support she provides.

This is the federal government’s own ‘scenario’ as to how their new monthly, tax-free benefit paid directly to a Veteran's caregiver, would work. The government is fulfilling its commitment to enhancing and simplifying support to Veterans' families and caregivers by replacing the Family Caregiver Relief Benefit with a monthly, tax-free benefit paid directly to a Veteran's caregiver.

Some might call that a form of basic income – it’s even indexed to inflation. As well, it gets to the heart of the debate about paid and unpaid work in families.

As the Basic Income Canada Network points out in its primer on Gender and Family, the ‘household’ or ‘care’ economy “functions right alongside the ‘market’ economy of business and jobs.”

“It’s an essential part of our health, wellbeing and social cohesion. It includes the work of cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, home maintenance, repairs and improvements that are a necessary part of life and the work of raising children, caring for each other and building relationships and communities – all the things that make life worth living.”

Another form of basic income – the Canada Child Benefit – can also be considered here: In Canada, when a lone mother’s children reach 18 years of age, the family loses child benefits, a form of basic income, and all family members become more vulnerable to poverty and its effects, like school drop-out.

The proposed changes for veteran’s families were “specifically requested by the veterans caregiver stakeholder community,” according to a press release, suggesting an appetite for this form of income floor for families.

Quick Facts

  • $187.3 million over six years to create the Caregiver Recognition Benefit to provide $1,000 per month to caregivers of ill and injured Veterans to better recognize their vital role.
  • This new tax-free benefit of $1,000 a month will be paid directly to a Veteran's caregiver.
  • This benefit will be indexed annually to keep pace with inflation.
  • These changes will provide additional support to Veterans and their families and recognizes the integral role of the caregiver in the Veteran's well-being
  • The definition of a Caregiver is a person 18 years of age or older who plays an essential role in the provision or coordination of ongoing care for that Veteran in the Veteran’s home, for which that person received no other forms of remuneration