May 24, 2019 Ottawa Canada Revenue Agency
The Government of Canada takes the needs of Canadians with disabilities seriously, and it is improving services to assist them and their families.
Today, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, responded to the Disability Advisory Committee’s first annual report, Enabling access to disability tax measures, on behalf of the Government. In doing so, she acknowledged the report’s recommendations and reiterated the Government’s strong commitment to meeting the needs of persons with disabilities.
The Government has already delivered on some of the committee’s recommendations, including the recommendation to allow Canadians to keep their Canada Disability Savings Grants and Canada Disability Savings Bonds for all periods in which they qualify for the disability tax credit (DTC). Budget 2019 proposes eliminating the requirement to close a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) when a beneficiary no longer qualifies for the DTC. This significant measure, welcomed by the committee, will help thousands of Canadians with severe and prolonged disabilities, along with their families, to save for their financial security.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has also taken steps to implement the committee’s recommendations around making the DTC easier to access:
- The CRA launched its enhanced telephone service, which allows Canadians to connect with call centre agents who can address complex DTC-related questions in one phone call.
- Canadians can now submit their DTC application electronically through My Account or Represent a Client. As a result, applicants will get immediate confirmation that the CRA has received their documents.
- Through additional funding provided in Budget 2018, the Government expanded the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program and the Outreach Program, which will help increase DTC awareness and access to free tax preparation services so that more Canadians can access the DTC and other benefits and credits.
- The CRA recently published more comprehensive data on Canada.ca about the DTC. This new data, which includes classification by gender, age and province or territory of residence, provide a more accurate picture of applicants.
More than half of the report’s recommendations relate to administrative improvements, many of which the CRA expects to implement by spring 2020. These include, among others, modernizing the DTC application process.
For recommendations that fall beyond the CRA’s purview, especially those that touch upon legislative issues, the committee has acknowledged these will take time to implement. The CRA, along with relevant departments, will continue to collaborate with the committee during the second year of its mandate to develop an approach to address more complex recommendations. As part of this process, building on the Accessible Canada consultations, the Government of Canada will continue to engage with the broader disability community to identify ways to improve the financial security of persons with disabilities.
“I thank the members of the Disability Advisory Committee for this first annual report and for their outstanding contribution. Our government ensures that tax measures for persons with disabilities are administered in a fair, transparent and accessible manner. The Agency is already working closely with the Committee to follow up on the recommendations related to my mandate. I also discussed this report with my colleagues who have the primary responsibility for some of the other recommendations. In the coming year, our government is committed to continuing the work begun with the Committee to develop an approach to follow up on its proposals. I will meet again with the Committee in June, and I look forward to talking with members about the report findings, which can serve as the basis for lasting improvements in the living conditions of people with disabilities.”
-The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue
“The recommendations brought forward today by the Disability Advisory Committee are an important contribution to the broader conversation around financial security for persons with disabilities. As the Minister responsible for accessibility, and as a person with a disability myself, I know very well that millions of people across Canada continue to face barriers every day. This is why we developed Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. With Bill C-81, and meaningful initiatives such as the ones proposed through the Disability Advisory Committee and Budget 2019, we are working to build a truly accessible Canada without barriers, where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.”
-The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility
Reinstated by Minister Lebouthillier in 2017, the committee provides recommendations to the Minister on an annual basis.
The Government invests annually to help address the needs of persons with disabilities through a number of programs. These include the Enabling Accessibility Fund, the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, the Disability Component of the Social Development Partnerships Program, the Canada Disability Savings Program, Canada Pension Plan disability benefits and the Workforce Development Agreements with provinces and territories.
Through Budget 2019, the Government is investing in several initiatives to work towards eliminating barriers faced by persons with disabilities. Budget 2019 proposes:
- $12 million over three years to improve employment outcomes for persons with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder;
- $13.7 million over five years to help identify, remove and prevent technological barriers in federal government workplaces;
- $25.8 million over five years to make reading materials accessible for those with print disabilities;
- Exempting assets held in RDSPs from seizure in bankruptcy;
- Eliminating the requirement to close an RDSP when a beneficiary no longer qualifies for the disability tax credit.
The Government of Canada also introduced Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, in Parliament in June 2018. The Bill was adopted by the Senate on May 13, 2019. Once the Bill becomes law, the Act will benefit everyone in Canada, especially persons with disabilities, through the proactive identification, removal and prevention of barriers to accessibility in areas such as employment, built environment, and the design and delivery of programs and services. It will apply to sectors under federal jurisdiction, including transportation, broadcasting and telecommunications, banking, and the Government of Canada.