In an article in the NY Times "Until Medical Bills Do Us Part" http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/opinion/30kristof.html , it was reported that 62% of American bankruptcies are linked to medical bills. In Professor Yunus' Banker to the Poor, he recounted how a family who had originally been profiled as a success story in "60 Minutes" in 1989, was pulled back into poverty due to her husband's illness by 1996. The woman "was so frail and tired, she did not trust herself to take a new loan." p229, Banker to the Poor.
It’s easy to assume that scenarios like that would not affect canadians, because of the of Canada’s health care system, but Canada has its own unique circumstances. Namely, we are a nation of immigrants and as such, many of us still have immediate family who we support overseas through remittances- particularly those of us who are first-generation canadians.
Just as micro-finance was a mere concept many years ago before Professor Yunus dreamed up a way of improving the lives of fellow Bangladeshis, how can we help individuals who support family overseas through remittances, or bring and support them locally as caregivers? How can we help them so that they don't suffer burnout and depression due to being caregivers and lose their ability to provide emotional and financial support? How can we eliminate the real possibility of a lifetime of poverty for families (and extended families) devastated by disease? Just as Yunus changed the definition of loans to include micro-credit, can we expand the definition of "charity" to include extended families, or extend tax credit for monies used solely for health-care purposes?
I realize that tax regulations are regulated by each country's govenment, but I believe that these concepts are outdated, particularly because there are so many families who have links in more than one country due to migration patterns. These same families typically spend more in remittances than subsequent generations. So while the senders do not receive any tax credit for their contributions, receiving countries, like El Salvador, http://www.americasquarterly.org/remittances-el-salvador receive a significant portion of income through remittances. This hardly seems right.
I am certain that if remittance-senders received a tax credit for this type of activity, they would be able to lend even more financial support, or at least make the support sustainable over time. I also believe that the links between chronic illness/diability and poverty will be particularly important as populations age in countries like Canada. Is the course of action to create a non-profit, or change legislation. My idea is not too necessarily get more government funding for programs and overburden the healthcare system. The idea is to make it easier to help families help each other, regardless of wheteher their family resides in the same country or overseas. So how do we achieve this?