Mental Illness

The Tax Court of Canada was not satisfied with Judge Campbell’s decision in Buchanan v. The Queen and made an application for a judicial review of the case to the Federal Court of Appeal. The Applicant’s Memorandum of Fact and Law stated the “Trial Judge made several erroneous finding of fact based on no evidence or in the face of contrary evidence.” Intervenors for James Buchanan included the Council for Canadians with Disabilities, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Canadian Association of Community Living.

In a unanimous decision Attorney General v. James W. Buchanan, the Federal Court of Appeal Judges Marshall E. Rothstein, Arthur J. Stone and J. Edgar Sexton dismissed the appeal by the Minister of National Revenue seeking to overturn the decision of the Tax Court of Canada to allow James W. Buchanan to receive the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). The ruling also established the legal standard for the DTC for all people living with a severe mental impairment, including brain injuries, learning disabilities and Alzheimer’s disease who previously did not qualify for the DTC.

In his ruling, Judge Rothstein concluded:

“With these considerations in mind, I turn to the findings of fact by the Tax Court Judge and the evidence in this case. Based upon the evidence given by the psychiatrist, I believe it was open to the Tax Court Judge to conclude that the respondent's inability to perceive, think and remember was of such severity that the respondent was unable to perform the necessary mental tasks required to live and function independently and competently in everyday life. In particular, she found that this was an obvious case and noted that the respondent received the disability tax credit until the psychiatrist was asked for a new medical certificate and, in providing it, misinterpreted the Act. Given these findings, based on the evidence of the psychiatrist and his misinterpretation of the Act, I think it was open to the Tax Court Judge to conclude that the medical certificate was incorrectly completed and that, applying the correct legal test, the negative certificate should be treated as a positive one.”