Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague's question both illustrates and emphasizes just how different the varying needs of our country's caregivers are.
He mentioned home care. One of our problems is that we have very different levels of home care depending on where we live in Canada. In my own province of Nova Scotia, for example, our home care program is not very robust. There is virtually no pediatric home care.
I recall a former colleague of mine, who had two autistic sons. I believe that at the time they were 12 and 14 years of age. Because she and her husband were working every hour they could, keeping in mind that one of them always had to be with the boys, every other hour was spent putting money into their care, not only in the present but more particularly for when the parents might not be there to take care of the boys. They got a letter from the Home Care Nova Scotia program indicating that their respite of two hours a week was being cut off because their income had gone up and was too high.
We need to recognize that these people who face these burdens--and also what was for them the joy of having these two boys at home--have a real financial burden. We have to tailor this to their needs.
In my own case when I had parents dying at home, I was one of seven children. My two sisters from Toronto moved into the family home in Nova Scotia and provided full time care to my parents. They were heroes to the rest of us. We all played a part. There were seven of us. We were not rich, but we were able to provide the care and we wanted to provide the care. My parents were sick for a short period of time and were less than six months in palliative care before they died.
Our circumstances, while sad, were not desperate at all. In fact, in many ways it was a learning experience for us, and our parents died reasonably comfortably at home. Our circumstances cannot be compared to those of somebody who has virtually no income or an employer who provides no support, or to those of somebody who cannot provide the nursing care at night.
That is why I think it is very important to have these discussions, as the minister of state is doing in going across the country and talking to caregivers in their communities and asking them what they need. In some cases, it might be a tax credit. In other cases, it might be more robust home care. In another case, it could be directly paying for benefits for veterans, children or people with special needs.
I think the key is that caregivers are individualized. There is no broad need across the country. There are just a lot of very individual needs. I am glad that the minister is going across Canada talking to these people individually so that we can provide some kind of suite of services for these people who take such a burden off the system, put it onto themselves and provide better care for their loved ones.