Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood. It is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control their muscles. The symptoms of cerebral palsy can vary widely from person to person, ranging from mild to severe.
While there is no cure for CP, there are treatments such as medications, therapies, and surgical procedures. Many people with CP also use adaptive devices and other types of medical equipment. People with cerebral palsy typically require lifelong care, from childhood through adulthood.
Caring for a child with cerebral palsy can be extensive and time-consuming. At the Birth Injury Lawyers Alliance (BILA), we are dedicated to helping families who are dealing with the challenges associated with medical negligence and resulting birth injuries. If your child has suffered a birth injury, we may be able to get you the financial compensation that you will need for their care in the future.
Below, we have outlined some financial resources that may be available to families of children with cerebral palsy in Canada. If you need additional assistance, you can call our law offices to get connected with help in your area.
Who Can Provide Financial Help
Generally, there are two categories of organizations that can provide financial assistance to families of children with disabilities like CP. In addition, if your child’s condition was caused by medical negligence, you may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit with the help of our cerebral palsy lawyers.
Children with CP may suffer from a wide range of symptoms. These symptoms may be relatively mild or may cause serious disability. Common signs and symptoms of CP include:
- Stiff and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity)
- Stiff muscles with normal reflexes (rigidity)
- Variations in muscle tone
- Poor balance and muscle coordination (ataxia)
- Slow, writhing movements
- Difficulty walking
- Favoring one side of the body
- Difficulty with fine motor skills
- Delays in the development of speech
- Excessive drooling
- Problems with sucking, chewing, eating, and/or swallowing
- Difficulty speaking
- Motor skill milestone delays
- Intellectual disabilities
- Smaller than expected size
- Learning differences
- Seizures (epilepsy)
- Hearing difficulties
- Limited vision and/or abnormal eye movements
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Abnormal touch or pain sensations
- Mental health conditions, including behavioral problems and emotional disorders
Medical treatments for CP are designed to ease these symptoms, such as medication to reduce muscle rigidity or physical therapy to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and motor development. Families are often left to cover many expenses, such as assistive technologies or even adaptations to their home to make it accessible.
Families with children who have CP often have to take time off of work to go to doctor and therapy appointments. This can create a financial burden for many families, which is why other forms of financial assistance can be critical.
Types of Assistance Available
There are many programs in Canada that are designed to help children with developmental disabilities like cerebral palsy. Below, we break down the available assistance into two categories: aid from the government and help from non-profit organizations.
The Canadian government and various provincial governments provide additional forms of birth injury support to families of children with cerebral disabilities. Some of these options are only available to families who reside in a particular province. If you have any questions about what financial assistance opportunities you may be eligible for, you can reach out to BILA or call your provincial government authorities.
These programs include:
- Child disability benefit: any Canadian family with a child under the age of 18 who has a severe and prolonged impairment may qualify for this benefit, up to $2,985 annually for each child who is eligible.
- Disability tax credit (DTC): this non-refundable tax credit provides up to $8,870 (for 2022), plus an additional supplement of $5,174 for children under 17 in tax credits for people with a disability or anyone who is supporting a family member with a disability.
- Gas rebate: if your child’s CP is severe enough that they cannot use public transportation, you can seek a refund for a portion of the federal excise tax that you buy for your vehicle.
- Vehicle sales tax rebate: if you either modify your vehicle or purchase a modified vehicle for accessibility for your child with a disability, you may be able to claim a sales tax rebate from your provincial government.
- Assistive Devices Program: in Ontario, the Ministry of Health will reimburse residents up to 75% of the cost of assistive devices like hearing aids, visual aids, orthotic braces, feeding pumps, and mobility aids. Families can apply for a grant by filling out an application and submitting it to the appropriate agency in their province.
- Assistance to Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD): also in Ontario, this program offers parents between $25 and $500 per month in cash assistance if a child under the age of 18 in their home has a severe disability.
- Respite care and Equipment and Supplies funding: In British Columbia, you may qualify for funding for respite care and funding for equipment (such as seating and mobility devices) and supplies (such as formula and feeding tubes).
- Trillium Drug Program: in Ontario, this program offers low-income families financial support for high prescription drug costs relative to their income.
- Saskatchewan Home Repair Program: this government program provides financial assistance to homeowners or rental property owners with low incomes to make a home more accessible for a person with a disability in Saskatchewan.
- Government of Canada – Living with a Disability: the program provides information about financial assistance for people with disabilities throughout Canada.
- New Brunswick Family Supports for Children with Disabilities: this voluntary program provides social work support and financial resources to families in New Brunswick.
- Ontario Disability Supports Program: The ODSP provides financial assistance to people with disabilities in Ontario.
- Enhanced Respite: in Ontario, this program for people who are medically fragile/technology dependent (MFTD) offers respite for caregivers of youth with special needs.
- Government of PEI – Home Renovation Program: in PEI, this program offers financial assistance to qualifying Islanders to help cover the cost of major structural renovations to their homes that are necessary due to a disability.
- Government of Yukon – Training and Work Disability Supports: in Yukon, this program offers financial support for people with disabilities to find work or learn a new skill.
Importantly, this list is not exhaustive. There may be other resources available to you based on where you live and your specific situation. If you have questions, you should reach out to a social worker in your province to learn about programs and supports that may be available to you as a family with a child who has CP.
In addition to governmental support, many non-profit organizations in Canada provide additional assistance. Depending on the program, this may include funding for specific medical costs or even money for things that a family could not otherwise afford, like a vacation.
- Ceridian Cares: In Ontario, this nonprofit offers medical assistance to families and individuals, including funding for medical equipment, respite services, short-term counseling, and more.
- AJ’s Loan Cupboard: In Alberta, this program offers loans of medical equipment to people with disabilities.
- Find Support BC: This group connects families of people with disabilities in British Columbia with the resources available to them.
- BC Housing – Home Adaptations for Independence: In British Columbia, this program provides financial assistance in the form of a grant to eligible low-income households to complete home adaptations for independent living.
- Cerebral Palsy Foundation (Saint John) Inc: This program offers financial assistance to people in New Brunswick to assist with the purchase of equipment and provides general information about cerebral palsy.
- Saskatchewan Angels & Friends Foundation: In Saskatchewan, this nonprofit provides funds for specialized equipment for children living with intellectual disabilities (which may include children with CP).
- Easter Seals Canada: This organization offers a range of programs and services across Canada, including funding for assistive and adaptive technology and sports, recreation, and leisure programs and camps.
- March of Dimes Canada: This is a nonprofit that provides funding and assistance for home and vehicle renovations for accessibility for all Canadians with disabilities.
- Sunshine Foundation: Across Canada, this organization grants “wishes” for kids with disabilities.
- Starlight Canada: This is a program that grants wishes for kids with disabilities in Canada, both in and out of the hospital.
- Make-A-Wish Canada: This nonprofit works throughout Canada to fulfill wishes for kids with critical illnesses and disabilities.
- Ability Gives: This program contributes by helping families with children and youth with disabilities acquire the necessary equipment/aids.
- A Child’s Voice Foundation: This Canadian charity provides funding for products and services for children with disabilities.
- Jennifer Ashleigh’s Children’s Charity: This nonprofit offers financial assistance to Ontario families with children under the age of 21 who have a permanent disability or a serious illness.
- OFCP – This nonprofit organization provides services, resources and programs for people with CP and their families, including education and recreation to housing and life planning.
As with governmental programs, this list of nonprofits that provide financial assistance to families of children with CP may not be complete. A social worker in your province can help guide you toward charities and other organizations that can provide you with more information about the options that you may qualify for based on your income, your child’s level of disability, and other factors.
How to Get Help
Cerebral palsy has many possible causes, including gene mutations, maternal infections, and lack of oxygen to the brain during labour and delivery. If you believe that your child’s CP diagnosis is related to medical negligence, BILA can help. While a cerebral palsy lawsuit cannot make your child whole again, it can provide you with the financial support that you need to care for your child throughout their lifetime.
BILA advocates for children and families throughout Canada who have suffered a birth injury. We offer free consultations, where we will listen to your story and offer you advice on your options for filing a claim. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a birth injury lawyer in your province, call BILA today at 1-800-300-BILA or via our online contact form.
Is Cerebral Palsy Always Caused By a Birth Injury?
No. Like other developmental disabilities, CP has many possible causes. It is not always preventable and may be caused by things like abnormal brain development from a genetic mutation. However, there are situations where medical negligence – either during pregnancy or labour and delivery – cause cerebral palsy.
If you suspect that your child developed CP because of medical malpractice, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover financial compensation. At BILA, we are fierce advocates for the rights of children and their families whose lives have been affected by a birth injury. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
Can Medical Intervention Cure My Child’s Cerebral Palsy?
No. CP is a lifelong disease. The goal of therapies, medications, and other medical treatments is to reduce or minimize the symptoms of CP, rather than cure the disability. For example, if your child has speech and language delays, a speech-language pathologist can help to improve their ability to speak clearly or communicate.
Treatments and assistive devices for CP can often be costly. A birth injury lawsuit may help to reduce the financial strain that a serious disability like cerebral palsy can put on a family. Call BILA today to talk to a birth injury lawyer in your province about your claim.