The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is an important credit that has long been available to Type 1 diabetics if they spend more than an average of 14 hours per week performing life sustaining therapy. Until May 2017, 80% of diabetics who supplied a letter from their physician confirming that they meet the criteria were approved for the DTC by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). After May 1, almost all applications from Type 1 diabetics were rejected. Some of those rejected had received the credit for as long as 10 years.
The DTC is a valuable credit, typically worth $800, and eligibility for the credit is tied to eligibility for many other support programs available to disabled Canadians, including Registered Disability Savings Plans and related matching grants.
Advocates for diabetics quickly became aware of the rejections in the summer and asked the CRA for an explanation for the sudden rejection rates. Neither the CRA nor Minister Diane Lebouthillier provided any answers and denied that any change had been made.
In October my Conservative colleagues Dan Albas (Shadow Minister for Small Business), Pierre Poilievre (Shadow Minister for Finance) and I held a press conference with Diabetes Canada to make the media aware of the situation. We also began to raise the issue almost daily in the House of Commons where the Minister continued for weeks to deny that there had been any change. I tried to table documents in the House to confirm a policy change had been made and was prevented from doing so by the Liberals.
On November 23, the minister appeared at the Finance Committee where she continued to deny a change had taken place. At this meeting, even some of the Liberals demanded better explanations from the minister and her department’s officials.
Eventually, after two months of constant questioning from myself, my conservative colleagues, the media and diabetes Canada, the CRA said that it would revert to its pre-May 2 approval process and would review the rejections since May. Even after announcing this policy reversal, the minister bizarrely continued to deny that she or her department had made any changes, despite it being publicly known that on May 2 she sent an internal email to those who review DTC applications which said that they were not to approve these applications unless there were unusual circumstances.
On December 5, I raised a question of privilege. This is the first step toward referral to a committee to determine if Minister Diane Lebouthillier acted in contempt of Parliament by deliberately misleading the House of Commons.
Fortunately for the thousands people living with Type 1 diabetes, it appears that the CRA will reinstate the DTC for many. What is particularly disturbing, is that this Liberal government is so desperate for cash that it is targeting diabetics and that a minister could be so out of touch with her department and so willing to deny responsibility for her and her department’s actions that she would repeat false and misleading statements over and over for a period of months.