Canadians with disabilities denied COVID assistance

November 8, 2020

Thousands of Canadians with disabilities did not receive the $600 COVID assistance from the federal government for people eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). Every year, approximately 30,000 men, women and children are denied the tax credit, many without a valid reason.

As long as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) interprets “all or substantially all of the time” narrowly and technically as being “at least 90% of the time,” eligible Canadians with disabilities are unjustly denied the DTC.

In a letter to his Member of Parliament, a constituent describes such action as “financial rape of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Such indignation at the injustice of a government agency is hardly surprising when an application for the DTC has been denied on the basis of an absolute measure of disability not supported by Subsection 118.4 of the Income Tax Act.

A reference to “rapacious tax gatherers” was made by the Honourable Donald G.H. Bowman, former Chief Justice of the Tax Court of Canada (TCC), when he addressed its 20th Anniversary Symposium in 2003 regarding individuals who decide to appeal their case.

"Most of them are small cases in the informal procedure where individuals, unrepresented by a lawyer, ignorant of the tax law and of the court procedures, and armed only with a sense of indignation at the injustice that they perceive to have been wrought upon them by unfeeling, arrogant and rapacious tax gatherers, choose to take up arms against the awesome might of the government.”

The TTC is the last resort for a just result when the CRA disregards the parliamentary and legislative intent of the Act.   

After all, the Department of Justice is responsible for ensuring that administrative law dealing with the operations of government is “fair, relevant, accessible and reflects Canadian values.”

A letter to the Honourable David Lametti asks the Minister of Justice and Attorney General to review the justification for the CRA to interpret the legislation narrowly and technically by imposing a “rule of thumb” of 90% without considering the facts and circumstances of every case.  

JovainThe letter highlights Jovain who has been receiving the DTC since 1993. In 2017, he was asked to reapply for the tax credit. His application was denied because he was “not markedly restricted in the mental functions necessary for everyday life.” Although the decision was successfully appealed, Jovain has to start the process all over again in 2023 since CRA classifies his medical condition as temporary.

Jovain is a very talented artist whose paintings were show-cased at an art studio in Winnipeg in September 2019. Jovain also struggles with severe symptoms of schizophrenia that has led to arrest warrants from the police as well as numerous involuntary hospital stays. Like so many others living with a severe mental illness with unpredictable resurges of symptoms, Jovain requires the intensive supports of the outreach-oriented comprehensive assistance provided by the Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) including its crisis response offered 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Jovain and others unjustly denied the DTC need your support. Please copy our letter and send it to your Member of Parliament asking your elected representative to raise your concerns with Minister David Lametti.