HST poses a threat to seniors living at home.
The proposed tax represents a significant financial barrier to seniors who require personal care in order to remain safely in their homes.
The application of the proposed HST on home health care services for seniors will also have a negative impact on seniors and their families.
The financial resources of the healthcare system are stretched. For many seniors, hiring supplementary care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Having help at home can mean the difference between staying at home safely and maintaining their health and independence, or having to make multiple trips to the Emergency Department, and possible admission to a Long Term Care Facility.
Seniors who receive home health care services save Ontario tax payers money by reducing the demand for urgent medical interventions. They also reduce the burden on Emergency Rooms. Treatment costs for acute care are astronomical. Home health care, by comparison, is not (not to mention that it is the individual and his/her family that is bearing the lion’s share of the cost for home health care while it is the taxpayer bearing the cost for institutional and acute care stays.)
People willing to take on the responsibility and the cost for their home health care reduce the financial impact on the healthcare system as a whole, yet the HST is coming along to penalize them.
The additional cost for a senior, as a result of the proposed HST can range from $713per year for someone receiving 4 hours of care 3 times a week to $7981 per year for someone receiving 12 hours of care 7 days a week.
It is not only wealthy seniors that hire supplementary care. Many seniors, who would be considered to be middle income earners, have made the decision to commit their financial resources to prioritize their own independence and safety.
Application of the HST to home health care services will have a negative impact on the ability of some seniors to make the best health care decisions.
Another possibly overlooked and undesirable effect of the HST will be to encourage more illegal, “under the table” financial arrangements between seniors and caregivers. These “work for cash” arrangements have both parties avoiding paying remittances to Revenue Canada, (CPP, EI, EHT..) and often times the work arrangements are in contravention of Canadian Labour Laws. In most of these cases, these illegal arrangements mean that there is no workplace insurance.
Vulnerable seniors are already at greater risk for such things as unreported accidents, physical, mental or financial abuse, theft, neglect etc. Forcing individuals and their families to consider illegal care workers and illegal financial payments puts these already vulnerable seniors at even greater risk.
The HST significantly increases senior expenses, and will affect seniors who need care – people who have paid taxes all their lives – at a time when they need help the most. To be respectful, fair and fiscally responsible, the cost of seniors’ home health care needs to be exempt from the HST.
See the Eldercare Home Health press release “HST Punishes Seniors in Need of Elder Care. President of Eldercare Home Health calls for HST exemption for senior care.“