By Thandiwe Konguavi
Staff Writer

Patients and their families should not be on the hook for home health care, the Catholic Women’s League of Canada says.

Over 2,350 people signed the CWL’s e-petition to the federal government to have home care included as an insured service under the Canada Health Act, including 566 signatures from Alberta.

“Right now, a lot of the caregiving that’s happening in homes is (dependent) on family and friends because a lot of people can’t afford to be hiring someone to be coming into their home,” said Nancy Simms, national chairperson of legislation for the CWL.

“If the financial support was there to have the professional home care givers to come in, that would take a lot of burden off of the family and friends.”

Home care is not considered a necessary health service under the Canada Health Act, meaning it may be paid for in whole or in part by provincial governments, private insurers, or by the patients and families themselves.

According to the Canadian Medical Association, home care can cost as much as $55 per day, compared to about $1,000 for hospital care.

“It’s certainly not only the less expensive option but it’s also the option that is more comfortable for the patient,” said B.C. Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, who will be bringing the CWL petition to Parliament.

McLeod said with adequate home support, people are healthier and “much happier to be in the home.”

Simms also said it could reduce the cases of euthanasia.

 “If we had this in the Canada Health Act, that home care would be insured, then that would take that burden off and then it reduces the implication that you should be getting assisted suicide.”

The problem is there’s no national standard for home care across Canada, McLeod said.
In Alberta, home care is provided based on need.

The number of Albertans receiving home care has increased by about 20 per cent in the last six years to more than 116,000 in 2015-16. Last week, Alberta Health announced a $200-million funding increase for home and community care, bringing total funding to more than $2 billion.

Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare, said every Canadian should have equal access to home care.

“Cost is definitely an issue and that creates a sense of inequity and it moves away from what the Canada Health Act and what our medicare system is supposed to be all about.”

Video: The Government of Alberta's Budget 2017 boosts home and community care by $200 million, so more Albertans can receive care in their homes and remain independent.