Talking Disability Tax Credit on Parliament Hill

By November 13, 2017Fresh Air Blog

A few weeks ago, you probably heard that there is a war being waged against adults with Type 1 and the Disability Tax Credit in Canada. In case you have no idea what we’re talking about, or if you just want to learn more, be sure to read and share our recent blog that outlines what a devastating impact these changes are having in the community.

This week, Diabetes Canada was in Ottawa to address the MPs on the Standing Committee on Finance, with regard to Bill C-63. Kimberley Hanson, the Director of Federal Affairs for Diabetes Canada, spoke to the committee about the recent issue of Disability Tax Credit eligibility in the T1D community.

As a bit of a primer, over the past many months, adults with Type 1 diabetes have been being denied the Disability Tax Credit. Even those who have had access to the credit in the past have been asked to reapply and have been denied, revoking disability status and triggering a cascade of serious financial implications for many adults with Type 1 across Canada. Nearly every application that has been submitted since May has been denied.

We asked the community to take action and to contact their MPs and we are grateful for everyone who has done so and is awaiting meetings. For more info on the call to action, click here.

We wanted to share with you a brief overview of this week’s meeting in parliament. Please read on to learn more.

Main Requests of Diabetes Canada to the MPs

  • That the CRA revert to pre-May practices
  • That the CRA engage in open and transparent consultations with CDA, JDRF, diabetes experts to talk about eligibility criteria that reflect reality of T1D
  • That the government grant access to the Disability Tax Credit to all Canadians living with T1D, on the basis that it is incurable

5 Key Takeaways

  1. Diabetes Canada has seen a significant increase in denials and decrease in approvals for T1Ds applying for the Disability Tax Credit. Kimberley estimated that a year ago more than 80% of T1D applicants were granted the DTC and RDSP, but since May 2017 that number has dropped to less than 20%. She has personally seen 715 cases of disallowance this year, affecting both new applicants and re-applicants.
  2. There has been no change to the Income Tax Act or the Disability Tax Credit eligibility criteria, but there have been changes in the wording of the clarification follow-up letter sent to applicants. In May, CRA acknowledged that adults independently managing insulin therapy for T1D are unlikely to meet the 14-hour requirement to qualify for the Disability Tax Credit. CRA has also acknowledged that they may have misinterpreted complaints from endocrinologists about the certification process.
  3. There’s a lot more at stake for people living with T1D than just the annual tax break through the Disability Tax Credit. On average, the DTC $1500 per year. If a person with T1D is not re-approved for the Disability Tax Credit, their Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) eligibility is also compromised. (More on that in a coming blog. If you want to stay up with this topic, sign up for our mailing list, here.) According to current guidelines, patients who have lost their Disability Tax Credit eligibility will have to close their RDSPs within one year and all government-contributed money will be revoked.
  4. Nurse Practitioners are now included in the income tax act and are eligible to provide certification or reports wherever they are currently provided by medical doctors. As of March 22, 2017, Nurse Practitioners can certify DTC and RDSP applications and complete documentation about their patients’ medical conditions. This will be especially important for individuals in rural and remote communities who have limited access to doctors and are primarily seen by nurse practitioners.
  5. Next steps on this issue are in progress. An Access to Information Request has been filed (in August) for more information on Disability Tax Credit application approvals under the “life-sustaining therapy” category. This will provide quantifiable data on changes in approval and denial rates.  As of October 25, Disability Tax Credit applications from T1Ds have been frozen while this issue is addressed in government. Diabetes Canada is coordinating a teleconference for the last week of November, with the purpose of educating officials about T1D management, and engaging them in conversation with diabetes experts (including endocrinologists, nurses, etc.).

What Can You Do?

Make your voice heard! Write to your MP, post on social media, or even call your local news station.

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If you are interested in watching the meeting in its entirety, the video feed is archived here.