Disability Advisory Committee Meeting – October 22-23, 2018

On October 22-23, 2018, the Disability Advisory Committee held its third meeting in Ottawa, Ontario.

Re-instated in November 2017, the Committee serves as an important forum for the Canada Revenue Agency to engage with persons living with disabilities.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Committee took a moment to pause and honour member Wendall Nicholas, who passed away on October 2, 2018. Mr. Nicholas was well known for his advocacy for the rights of Indigenous people living with disabilities. His presence and his contributions to preserving the dignity of the Indigenous people with disabilities will be greatly missed.

The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, took the opportunity to meet with Committee members during an informal dinner, and expressed her support for their work. Minister Lebouthillier emphasized the importance of the Committee's input, indicating that she looks forward to receiving their recommendations on ways the Agency can improve access to its services for Canadians living with disabilities.

Over the past year, the Committee has formed several subgroups, each charged with consulting stakeholder communities about how the Agency can improve the administration of measures for persons with disabilities, including the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). The results of these consultations are informing the Committee's deliberations and ultimately its recommendations to the Minister on a wide range of issues.

The Agency is already implementing changes as the result of the Committee's work, including a more efficient telephone service to connect Canadians with DTC-related inquiries directly with specialized call centre agents who can help to address questions in one phone call. This service will expand on a project that the Agency piloted which would provide faster, more effective service to Canadians facing DTC-related issues. As well, the Agency has increased DTC-related outreach efforts.

During the meeting, the Committee had the opportunity to hear from representatives from the Department of Finance and Employment and Social Development Canada to discuss DTC legislation and how eligibility for the DTC has an impact on Registered Disability Savings Plans. At the Agency's request, the Committee also considered and provided input on possible options for a maximum fee structure related to the Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act.

In addition, the Committee considered how their work aligns with the recent report "Breaking Down Barriers: A critical analysis of the Disability Tax Credit and Registered Disability Savings Plan" tabled by the Senate Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee in June 2018.

The Committee concluded their meeting by discussing an initial set of recommendations, which, once finalized will be provided to Minister Lebouthillier and the Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency in early 2019 in the form of the Committee's first annual report. These recommendations will include a series of tangible improvements that will help to guide the Agency and the Government of Canada in their efforts to better support people living with disabilities.

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