moved for leave to introduce Bill C-534, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (in-home care of relative).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to introduce legislation that was first brought to my attention by good friend, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, the former MP for Winnipeg North, who, along with her adviser, Chuck Brabazon, did all the heavy lifting to make the bill's tabling possible today.
I am proud to stand on their shoulders and sponsor this initiative through the legislative process because it will make a profoundly positive difference for the thousands of Canadians who are the primary caregivers for their spouses.
Let us look at the bill. My bill would bolster the family income of persons living with disabilities by extending the caregiver tax credit to the spouses of persons with disabilities. It is outrageous that spouses are excluded from a tax credit for which almost 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 member 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 will send a strong signal that the federal government recognizes the exceptional contribution that spouses make as caregivers and 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.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)