Province announces new benefit for informal caregivers of seniors

The Gallant government has announced a $106.25 monthly benefit for residents who take care of seniors or anyone with a disability who wishes to remain independent.

The New Brunswick government has announced a monthly benefit for primary informal caregivers

Primary informal caregivers are people who care for seniors or anyone with a disability who wishes to remain independent. (CBC)

The New Brunswick government is offering a permanent monthly benefit for informal caregivers who support seniors or people living with a disability, but who want to remain independent. 

The non-taxable benefit will give informal caregivers $106.25 per month and will be retroactive from April 1, 2018. The department will start sending out applications in June. 

The benefit will go to caregivers of people who are registered under the disability support services program or the long-term care program through social development.

According to the department, there are 8,900 people registered — 4,900 seniors and 3,950 adults living with a disability. 

 A primary informal caregiver is someone who provides regular care without pay to a person in need of support due to a physical, cognitive, or mental health condition. It could be a spouse, parent, adult child, another relative, friend or neighbour. 

Joan McGowan, director of the long-term care program, said the new benefit is to recognize the support people give others so they can stay in their own home. 

The new benefit will help reduce the expenses associated with caring for someone, like transportation or food. 

"To be a caregiver, beyond the time, sometimes there are expenses involved," she said. 

McGowan said anyone who isn't registered in either program would have to go through a functional assessment to become a long-term care client, or fill out an application, and meet the requirements under the disability support program. 

A good start

Haley Flaro, executive director of Ability New Brunswick, said the benefit is a step in the right direction. She said informal caregivers can be forgotten. 

"That number is a really good start," she said. "It's a couple of tanks of gas." 

Haley Flaro, the executive director of Ability New Brunswick, said the benefit is a step in the right direction for offsetting the cost of being a primary informal caregiver. (Submitted by Ability New Brunswick)

Flaro has a personal connection to the benefit and how much it can help. She provided informal care to her mother. 

She said there isn't a lot of research about informal caregivers in New Brunswick, so the new benefit will help figure out how they need to move forward. 

"I am hopeful informal caregivers will use this in the best way possible to give themselves a hand-up," said Flaro. 

She said she will be talking to clients who are using the program in the fall to see how it's working and what might need to change.