Notes for a speech to the House of Commons – Bill C 462
Mr. Speaker, I welcome this chance to add my voice in support of this commendable legislation.
Bill C-462 builds on our Government’s strong record of supporting the full and equal involvement of those with disabilities in every aspect of Canadian society.
As you know, we work to ensure that our legislation, policies, programs and services are inclusive of people with disabilities and that they fully respect their rights and interests.
The Government of Canada provides a variety of services and financial benefits to assist people with disabilities and their families to make this goal a reality.
For example, our Government offers a range of generous tax credits and benefits for Canadians with disabilities.
These important measures are among the many ways we are advancing our Government’s plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity that’s working for Canadians, even as they face challenging times.
Mr. Speaker, we also strive to promote positive attitudes and raise awareness about the needs of Canadians with disabilities in order to prevent unintended negative outcomes.
You need look no further than Bill C-462 for evidence of that.
When the Honourable Member for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke discovered that some of her constituents with disabilities were being charged excessive fees by tax promoters to apply for the Disability Tax Credit, she took action to put a stop to the abusive practice.
It is thanks to her perseverance and diligence that we have this legislation before us today.
As Parliamentarians know, the Disability Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit.
It reduces the amount of income tax that either individuals with disabilities or those who support them have to pay.
It may help compensate for the cost of additional expenses, such as special equipment, medications and treatments.
Eligibility is not based on the diagnosis of any specific medical condition, but is based on the effects of the conditions on an individual over a prolonged period of time.
To be eligible for the tax credit, the person must have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.
It must restrict the person in one or more of the basic activities of daily living or cause the person to take an inordinate amount of time to perform the activity even with appropriate therapy, medication and devices.
This needs to be verified by a qualified practitioner – a medical doctor, an optometrist, audiologist, occupational therapist, psychologist, physiotherapist or speech-language pathologist.
Mr. Speaker, hundreds of thousands of Canadians with disabilities and the family members who care for them count on the Disability Tax Credit to help improve their standard of living and quality of life.
The Canada Revenue Agency receives on average 200,000 new disability tax credit applications each year.
It is estimated that approximately 9,000 of these requests are received from taxpayers who use the service of a disability tax credit promoter.
However, in too many cases, the people who really need this tax credit don’t get their fair share of the eventual tax refund.
Mr. Speaker, the problem isn’t with the tax credit. As others have explained, the issue is that there are some private sector companies that appear to have no compunction about cashing in on this tax benefit intended for Canadians with disabilities – for their own benefit.
There have been numerous cases brought to our attention in which promoters have charged 30 to 40 percent of the amount of the person’s income tax refund.
We are talking about thousands of dollars in fees, for something that is very simple to do.
You see, these businesses generally just complete Part A of the Disability Tax Credit application form, a straightforward process that usually takes little time.
Mr. Speaker, aside from being reprehensible, this is first and foremost unnecessary.