MONCTON (GNB) – The provincial government is introducing a new benefit for people who provide informal care to help seniors and people living with a disability remain independent.

“Supporting our seniors and those living with a disability are important components of the New Brunswick Family Plan,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “These investments will help seniors and people living with a disability stay in their homes longer, which is better for their quality of life. There are many New Brunswickers that contribute many hours every week to help a loved one or a friend be able to live independently. We want to help them and encourage that type of support.”

A primary informal caregiver is defined as a person who provides regular ongoing care and assistance, without pay, to someone in need of support due to a physical, cognitive or mental health condition.

The non-taxable monthly benefit is only available to an eligible primary informal caregiver of a Social Development client receiving in-home services through the Long Term Care or Disability Support Services programs.

“Informal caregivers, such as families, friends, neighbours and community groups, have a critical role in helping seniors and persons with a disability live as independently as possible at home, and be active in our communities,’’ said Ability New Brunswick executive director Haley Flaro. “Informal caregivers in New Brunswick have identified a need for greater support, including financial support, and this initiative is an extremely positive step.”

Eligible caregivers will receive $106.25 per month to recognize the valuable contributions they make, as well as to help offset some expenses incurred while helping someone remain in their home. The benefit is retroactive to April 1, 2018.

Only one primary informal caregiver per client may be eligible. An informal caregiver may include a spouse, parent, adult child, other relative, friend or neighbour.

The department will send out information packages, including application forms, in June. The client and the caregiver must fill out the forms and return them to the department in order to receive the benefit. The benefit will be overseen by case managers at the Department of Social Development to ensure it is distributed appropriately. A client may choose to change the primary informal caregiver and can do so by contacting the department.

The government has budgeted $11.3 million for the benefit this year.

This year’s budget contained a number of investments and strategies to benefit seniors:

  • $2.1 million in additional funding for specialized beds for people with advanced dementia.
  • $12 million to increase wages for human services workers.
  • $1.25 million for a pilot project to help free up acute-care beds.
  • $2.1 million for a wage supplement program focused on seniors, to encourage companies to hire seniors.
  • $800,000 to begin implementing the New Brunswick Aging Strategy.

As well, the government continues to invest in services for adults with a disability. The Disability Support Program offers flexible and individualized support for people between the ages of 19 and 64 with a disability. 

Supporting people living with a disability and fostering healthy aging and support for seniors are among the seven priority areas outlined in the New Brunswick Family Plan framework, which also focuses government action on: improving access to primary and acute care; promoting wellness; supporting people with addictions and mental health challenges; advancing women’s equality and reducing poverty.