Addressing the need to fix the administration of the DTC

May 25, 2019

"There are many people being left behind," admitted Sherri Torjman, vice-chair of the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) when talking about the need for a major overhaul of the eligibility criteria for the DTC during a press conference in Ottawa.  "What we want to ensure that they have access to the benefits and the tax measures to which they are entitled."

Press conference photo

The DAC has just released its first annual report, Enabling access to disability tax measures with 42 recommendations to improve access and fairness for Canadians with disabilities applying for the DTC.        

A major concern according to Dr. Karen Cohen, co-chair of the DAC,  is the application by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) of a rigid and inflexible interpretation of "all or substantially all of the time as being at least 90% of the time not only for people with physical impairments but also mental disorders. "It is the view of the committee that this interpretation has no basis in law... The 90% interpretation is problematic for those with mental disorders and disorders that are characterized by episodic symptoms. Many people have symptoms less than 90 per cent of the time, but their condition is severe, prolonged and restricts them all the time. It is important that we clarify the eligibility criteria related to mental functions."

The other major recommendation by the DAC recognizes that the eligibility criteria for Life Sustaining Therapy should include every treatment required to sustain life regardless of the applicant's medical condition.  JDRF Canada has been lobbying for years to have not only children but all adults living with type 1 diabetes who are insulin dependent qualify for the DTC.

These recommendations are not expanding the eligibility criteria as far as the parliamentary and legislative intent of the tax credit and should not rattle the already empty coffers at Finance Canada. After all, in the press release issued by the CRA, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue claims that, "Our government ensures that tax measure for persons witih disabilities are administered in a fair, transparent and accessible manner."