North Island residents with Type-1 diabetes could now be denied a tax credit that helped cover medical expenses, because of recent changes in the government’s approval process.
According to an Oct. 4 press release from Diabetes Canada, recent changes to Canada Revenue Agency’s practice has led to 80 percent of Type-1 diabetics Disability Tax Credit (DTC) applications being denied, whereas a year ago 80 percent were being approved.
The DTC is a non-refundable tax credit, used to reduce income tax for a person with a prolonged physical or mental impairment.
One of the criteria is that a person must dedicate 14 hours per week for therapy or treatment.
“People with Type-1 diabetes spend more than that managing their diabetes and many people who have applied for the DTC have had their claims denied,” said Diabetes Canada.
“Despite having doctor certifications of eligibility we are seeing diabetics, especially, denied the tax credit,” said North Island-Powell River MP, Rachel Blaney, in a recent media teleconference. “This is quite concerning because it can be people that were a part of the program for many years who are now being told they are no longer apart of the program,” she added.
“It’s something I deal with every day of my life,” said Darryl Millar, a Port Hardy resident with Type-1 diabetes, who was approved to receive the DTC in 2009.
Millar said it was a lengthy process to get approved for the tax credit, and he had to be interviewed and approved by a medical professional who evaluated how he manages his diabetes.
“It’s not like I can’t afford to look after my diabetes, but it’s expensive,” he said, adding, “I haven’t always had a good job or income and it was a big help to me.”
Millar said he spends well over $3,000 dollars a year on seeing specialists, medication, and testing strips.
Type-1 diabetes is incurable, occurring when the immune system mistakenly attacks and kills the beta cells of the pancreas. If blood sugar levels are not properly managed, Type-1 diabetes can lead to further, sometimes life-threatening health problems.
“The key I found is the direct correlation of how often I test and my health,” said Millar, adding that test strips range from 80 cents to a dollar a strip, and as a Type-1 diabetic you are recommended to test three to four times a day.
“To me the more you test the better control you have over your diabetes and the lower cost you will have on the medical system,” he said, noting that many diabetics on a lower income won’t test as much because it’s expensive.
“Straight up, they won’t have as good management of their diabetes,” he said. “It’s a big burden on the health care system and any way we can manage it better is a good thing.”
Millar said he is not yet sure if these changes have affected the status of his Disability Tax Credit or not. “I guess I find out when I do my taxes,” he said.
Blaney said she is concerned about the many people in North Island Powell River riding who benefit from this tax credit. “I’m concerned about the negative impacts,” she said, adding, “we are going to continue to raise these issues in the house and will watch closely to see what the outcomes are.”