Diabetes Canada welcomes the study and recommendations issued today from the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) and the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) and is hopeful that the Government of Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will take immediate action to address the concerns and recommendations raised in the report.
If implemented, the proposed changes could prevent further unnecessary financial hardship and emotional stress to Canadians with disabilities including those with diabetes, and in particular, those with type 1 diabetes. The report, Breaking Down Barriers: A Critical Analysis of the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan, addresses concerns raised by Diabetes Canada and those living with type 1 diabetes about changes needed to ensure the eligibility criteria to better reflect the realities of those living with the life-threatening chronic disease. The report also echoes calls made by Diabetes Canada that Canadians’ investments in their RDSPs should be protected.
“We are pleased that the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology is calling on the Government of Canada to address the inappropriate administering of the DTC and RDSP,” says Kimberley Hanson, director of public affairs, Diabetes Canada. “People with serious lifelong disabilities like the 300,000 Canadians with type 1 diabetes face financial burdens these programs are intended to help with. We know that the cost burden can prevent people with disabilities from protecting their health. This is an important issue that Diabetes Canada will continue to urge the government to address.”
Diabetes Canada collaborated with JDRF to raise the issues related to changes to the approval process for the Disability Tax Credit in 2017 after they heard from hundreds of Canadians living with type 1 diabetes that their access to the DTC, and consequently the RDSP, had been severely limited. The Government of Canada ultimately acted and the CRA returned to pre-2017 assessment of applications from adults with type 1 diabetes. The Minister of Revenue also reinstated the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC), which includes a representative from Diabetes Canada.
“We commend the hundreds of patients who brought this issue to light, and the hundreds more Canadians, both with diabetes and without, who spoke up to push for change. It is their voice that we amplified and we are so pleased that they were heard by the senate,” says Hanson.
Notwithstanding these important steps, there are still barriers to adults with type 1 diabetes and people with disabilities of all types in accessing the DTC and RDSP.
As highlighted in the Senate Committee’s Report, eligibility criteria do not reflect the experience of Canadians with disabilities such as diabetes. Diabetes Canada recommends that the eligibility criteria should be updated and applied more consistently.
In addition, and as mentioned in Breaking Down Barriers, there are problems with the RDSP. Since the program was created in 2008, many Canadians with disabilities such as type 1 diabetes have been saving for their future medical costs using this vehicle, which is its intended purpose. However, because only Canadians who are eligible for the DTC can contribute to RDSPs, if the CRA subsequently changes eligibility criteria in such a way that they become ineligible for the DTC, their investment accounts are closed and the government claws back all its contributions. “The regulations must be changed to protect the RDSP contributions of Canadians with disabilities,” says Hanson.
“While adults with type 1 diabetes were most affected by 2017 changes to the DTC, it’s important to note that people with type 2 diabetes may also qualify for the DTC if they are on intensive insulin regimes and/or if they are living with complications of diabetes,” notes Hanson.
Diabetes Canada supports Canadians with all types of diabetes. Those most affected by the 2017 changes are those with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a 24-7 chronic, progressive, autoimmune disorder that can neither be avoided nor cured. It renders those living with the disease dependent on insulin injections or infusions for the rest of their life, and puts patients at significant risk of complications such as heart disease, kidney failure, amputation and premature death. The loss of the disability tax credit in 2017 was an additional blow to those living with an expensive, chronic disease. The DTC helps people pay for the medication, devices and supplies that they need to live. Denial of this credit has placed enormous stress and financial burden on people with diabetes.
About Diabetes Canada
Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:
- Resources for health care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
- Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
- Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.
For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).
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