Canada could be facing significant “tax gap,” report finds

The federal government on Friday announced the names of the 12 members of the recently re-instated disability advisory committee (DAC), the mandate of which will be to help to provide guidance on how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can better deliver services to disabled Canadians.

The government announced in late November that it was re-instating the DAC after it had been disbanded in 2006. It already announced that the committee would be chaired by Frank Vermaeten, CRA assistant commissioner and Karen Cohen, the CEO of the Canadian Psychological Association.

The DAC members, who sit on the committee on a voluntary basis, consist of individuals with disabilities, qualified health practitioners, advocates from the disability and Indigenous communities, and tax professionals and lawyers. They are:

  • Sherri Torjman, vice chairwoman of the committee, former vice president, Caledon Institute of Social Policy, from Ontario
  • Laurier Beachell, Baker Law, from Manitoba
  • Gary Birch, Neil Squire Foundation, from British Columbia
  • Dr. Jeff Blackmer, Canadian Medical Association, from Ontario
  • Lembi Buchanan, Coalition for Disability Tax Credit Reform, from B.C.
  • Michael Edgson, RBC Financial, from British Columbia
  • Roberta Heale, Nurses Practitioner Association of Canada, from Ontario
  • James Hicks, Council of Canadians with Disabilities, from Manitoba
  • Emily Johnson, Diabetes Canada, from Manitoba
  • Wendall Nicholas, Wabanaki Council on Disability, from New Brunswick
  • Véronique Vézina, COPHAN, from Quebec
  • Karen Wiwchar, H&R Block Canada, from Alberta

The committee will meet three times of year.

Read: Feds to reinstate disability advisory committee

In addition to the committee member names, the government also announced that the CRA will return to using a pre-May 2017 clarification letter for disability tax credit (DTC) applications for life-sustaining therapy. A revised clarification letter issued in May led to concerns, and some controversy, when it appeared that individuals with Type 1 diabetes might have difficulty accessing the DTC.

The government said that the CRA would be proactively reviewing applications that had been denied since May, for which the CRA relied on the revised clarification letter. Individuals would not have to submit new or additional information unless contacted by the CRA.

“This decision [to return to the pre-May 2017 clarification letter] will allow the DAC to formulate recommendations on the CRA’s administrative practices, including clarification letters, through broader, more comprehensive stakeholder consultations,” stated a press release announcing the composition of the DAC. “As indicated previously, no change has been made to the eligibility criteria for the DTC.”

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