Lembi Buchanan is a passionate mental health advocate working on behalf of persons with severe mental illness to ensure that they are not discriminated against by government programs and policies. She was recently awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by The Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honorable David Johnston, recognizing her outstanding contribution to the country. Her dedication and perseverance lobbying the federal government have helped ensure fair tax treatment for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
Lembi began advocating for the reform of the federal Disability Tax Credit (DTC) for people in 2001. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) was routinely denying the credit for people with mental illnesses including her husband who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She appealed to the Tax Court of Canada on his behalf and the landmark case was upheld by the Federal Court of Appeal. The unanimous decision was written by Justice Marshall Rothstein who was later appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Lembi established the “Fighting for Fairness” campaign and formed the Coalition for Disability Tax Credit Reform which included a number of national health charities representing people with physical and mental impairments. The Coalition successfully lobbied the federal government and she was appointed as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee on Tax Measures for Persons with Disabilities. The federal government adopted many of the committee’s recommendations and amended the tax legislation. Form T2201 was revised in 2005 to reflect these changes.
Lembi is renewing her “Fighting for Fairness” campaign because of a significant body of evidence that the CRA is abusing its mandate and denying eligible DTC claims without justification.
Photo by official photographer as: Sgt. Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall © OSGG, 2016