Disability Advisory Committee – January 24, 2018

Readout of the January 24, 2018 meeting of the Disability Advisory Committee

The first meeting of the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) took place on January 24, 2018 in Ottawa. Minister Lebouthillier opened the meeting. All committee members were present for the meeting, with one who participated via conference call as a result of travel delays.

Once introductions were completed, discussions ensued about the Terms of Reference (TOR). Members were generally satisfied with the ToR, and most of the conversation was focused on the wording of the Mission Statement and the proposed changes to the scope of the committee’s mandate to examine policy and/or legislative issues. Another common issue was the desire to have a representative from the Department of Finance at future DAC meetings. Ms. Cohen offered to revise the TOR based on the discussion, and a revised final draft will be shared with members in the near future, recognizing that the Minister’s Office would have a say in any final decisions.

This was followed by discussion on the legislative aspect of the disability tax credit (DTC) and the CRA’s administration of the DTC. The role of the CRA in determining eligibility was also discussed.

After lunch, the Assistant Commissioner of the Public Affairs Branch (PAB) and Chief Privacy Officer spoke about the Letter of Agreement members signed as it relates to confidentiality and release of information. He also explained the type of communication support that could be provided to the members. Members have since been provided with the relevant contact information should they need assistance or have any questions.

Ms. Torjman presented an overview of the previous committee and shared her experience as co-chair of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on tax measures for persons with disabilities from 2003.

The CRA presented the DTC eligibility data. Questions were raised regarding the availability of DTC data focused on demographic information such as age, gender, and province of residence. The CRA agreed to look into whether or not it could present data in that manner.

The balance of the afternoon was spent discussing the way forward. There was keen interest in articulating next steps and concrete actions that could occur, with a focus on improving the DTC forms and publications to make them clearer and easier to follow. It was acknowledged during this discussion that organizing members into sub-groups would be an effective way to discuss and address specific topics between DAC meetings.

The co-chairs and vice-chair suggested the formation of 4 sub-groups to prioritize the work:

  1. Engage medical practitioners via a survey, to gather their feedback on how the CRA could improve forms, clarification letters and communication.
  2. Engage tax preparers (other than promoters) through a survey and other means to receive their input on what complications they have in supporting their clients who apply for the DTC.
  3. Contact stakeholders impacted by the DTC, including those who made submissions to the Technical Advisory Committee, to solicit ideas on what the DAC should examine.
  4. Examine accessibility issues to disability tax measures in the indigenous context.

It was suggested that these groups meet virtually on their individual topics, requesting assistance and support from the secretariat as needed.

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