This post outlines some of the Alberta subsidies and Federal tax credits. It should be noted that some of these may be income-based and subject to eligibility criteria indicated on the government websites.
Alberta Health Benefits and Subsidies
Alberta Health Benefits
In addition to regular services provided free-of-charge by AHS, Alberta Health provides the following:
- Alberta Blue Cross Coverage for Seniors, which covers 70% of the medication cost with a maximum payment by the recipient of $25 per prescription. The medication must be listed on the Alberta Drug Benefit List.
- Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL), which covers a wide variety of supplies including, for example, incontinence products (protective underwear) which can become quite expensive. These supplies are provided free-of-charge to low-income Albertans receiving income assistance. Other Albertans pay 25% of the cost with a maximum of $500 per year. This benefit falls under the Alberta Aids to Daily Living and Extended Benefits Regulation.
Designated Supportive Living and Long-term Care Facilities
Designated Supportive Living and Long-term Care facilities have an imbedded subsidy that AHS pays directly to the operator for health care services. This greatly reduces the cost to the end-user. LTC facilities provide additional cost reduction by paying the full cost of listed medications and incontinence products (protective underwear). For DSL facilities, the cost of some supplies can be reduced by using the AADL program.
Alberta Seniors and Housing
This Ministry provides:
- Alberta Seniors Benefit Program, which offers supplementary income to the Federal Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement.
- Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors, which deals with dental work, eye exams and surgery, as well as optical devices.
- Special Needs Assistance for Seniors (SNA), to fund the cost of “appliances and some health and personal support”.
- Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program.
- Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program (SHARP). This is a low-interest loan program.
Alberta Community and Social Services
The following programs from this Ministry are potentially useful for people with dementia and their caregivers, particularly if non-dementia disabilities are also involved:
- Alberta Adult Health Benefit, which provides dental care, eyewear, prescription drugs, ambulance services and diabetic supplies.
- Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH).
- Residential Access Modification Program (RAMP), which provides financial support for individuals with mobility challenges in their home.
Other Provincial Benefits and Services
Other programs include Health Benefits for individuals with low income for services not included in the standard Alberta Health coverage. The Guardianship & Trusteeship office, under the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General, provides assistance to those who have no-one to help them as Power of Attorney or Personal Directive Agent.
In addition to the above subsidies, some private facilities may offer their own income-based subsidies for applicants who are not eligible for government-subsidized DSL facilities.
REDI Grants for Companions
REDI is a local organization that provides Community Access to People in Continuing Care grants for residents under 65 years of age in Long-term Care facilities. The grant allows residents to hire Companions to help them go out into the community and to participate in local events. The program can also bring events into the facility for residents with limited mobility.
Canadian Tax Credits
Revenue Canada offers a variety of tax credits related to people with disabilities. These include:
- Disability Tax Credit: This is a non-refundable tax credit for people with a disability which can also be transferred to their caregivers. The application form needs to be filled out by a medical practitioner who will determine the level of disability, which plays a crucial role in the eligibility. This includes ability to prepare meals, feed and dress oneself. The application may go back 10 years, which reinforces the usefulness for caregivers to keep a diary so that they can support the claim to the medical practitioner and Revenue Canada.
- Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC): This is available to a caregiver who supports a family member with a physical or mental impairment.
Assistance with Programs and Subsidies
Assistance in obtaining information and applying for the above programs and subsidies can be obtained from the AHS Home Care office who has social workers that are well-versed in the available benefits and subsidies and can determine those that best fit a Client’s needs either at home or in a care facility. Walk-in services are also available at the local Alberta Supports office for provincial programs and at the Service Canada office for federal programs.
Potential Missed Opportunities
Lack of knowledge of available programs can lead to a significant financial cost. Some of the most commonly missed opportunities include:
- Staying too long in a non-subsidized facility, such as SL3. Due to the progression of the disease, the person with dementia will, at one point, qualify for a less expensive subsidized facility such as DSL3.
- Not taking advantage of the Revenue Canada Disability Tax Credit and Family Caregiver Amount (FCA) when applicable.
- Not making full use of the Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL) program for eligible supplies.