Canadians with diabetes losing vital tax credit.

Today, November 14, 2017, is World Diabetes Day.

On October 23, 2017, CTV News reported  that “advances in technology” is the reason that most Canadian adults living with diabetes now don’t qualify for a disability credit that can reduce their tax bills by as much as $1,500 a year.

In a July 31, 2017 letter, Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier explained that in order to receive a disability tax credit under the Income Tax Act, one must “require life-sustaining therapy (LST) at least three times each week for a total period averaging at least 14 hours a week to sustain a vital function.”

According to Diabetes Canada, as many as 150,000 Canadians now stand to lose their disability tax credit under the Liberal government’s current interpretation of the Income Tax Act, which seems to have been adopted early this year.

“More and more people are very concerned,” Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation president and CEO David Prowten told CTV News, “because obviously it’s a very expensive disease and this credit’s being taken away from them.”

The full CTV News story may be found here.

This is notwithstanding the fact that in a recent discussion paper Diabetes Canada reported that:

  1. 57% of Canadians with diabetes say they do not comply with their prescribed therapy because they cannot afford their medications, devices and supplies, thus potentially compromising their diabetes management.
  2. People living with diabetes have less access to public or private insurance which means greater out-of-pocket expenses.
  3. These costs are particularly difficult for low-income Canadians, such as those who do not receive social assistance, seniors on fixed incomes, or those who have high drug costs but do not qualify for other forms of assistance. Lack of access to these diabetes supports can increase the risk for costly, life-threatening diabetes-related complications.

Diabetes Canada made the following recomendation:

To ensure that all Canadians living with diabetes can optimally self-manage their disease, the Canadian Diabetes Association recommends that all governments address out-of-pocket costs by:

• Enhancing financial assistance for people with diabetes. Governments must enhance existing financial supports, such as the Disability Tax Credit.

• Ensuring access and affordability of diabetes medications, devices and supplies. The current drug review process results in too many Canadians not having equitable access to the medications, devices and supplies required for effective self-management. A review of international best practices can identify a more effective and efficient drug review system that better serves the health needs of all Canadians is required. Jurisdictions should also explore a common drug formulary to standardize access.

The Diabetes Canada paper can be found here.