Readout: Disability Advisory Committee Meeting – November 10, 2020
The Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) met virtually on November 10, 2020.
The meeting opened with remarks by Parliamentary Secretary Francesco Sorbara, who thanked Committee members for their work and ongoing commitment to supporting and advocating for persons with disabilities.
Parliamentary Secretary Sorbara also thanked four members of the Committee, Lembi Buchanan, Dr. Jeff Blackmer, Michael Edgson and Karen Wiwchar for their contributions during the last three years, as their terms will come to an end in January 2021.
The Committee had a rich discussion on several policy issues that they had compiled, with Mr. Matthew Gray, Policy Advisor to the Minister of National Revenue. The issues were many and quite vast in scope, some of which included the DTC being a gateway to many other benefits and credits, proposed legislative change to the definitions and understanding of mental functions and life sustaining therapy; among many others. Some of these discussion points were also raised with guests from the Department of Finance towards the end of the meeting.
Additionally, during the meeting, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provided updates on various initiatives related to the Committee’s recommendations from their first annual report. Some of the updates included:
- An overview of the results from the client experience survey. This survey was launched in April 2020 and is made available to taxpayers via a link included on the Notice of Determination. The survey provides taxpayers with an opportunity to comment on several aspects of the DTC – ease of applying, awareness of the DTC and related matters, whether they had to pay someone for the completion of their application, to name a few.
- Discussion on the scope and implementation of the “Navigator” role. This is a new position being created to provide additional support to taxpayers applying for the DTC. The Navigator will also assist taxpayers with tracking progress made on complex applications, examples of which may include applications where additional information was sought from a medical practitioner or where other documents are requested in order to determine eligibility. These positions are to be staffed in early 2021.
- Inter-governmental committees that the CRA participates in with a focus on further enhancing horizontal communication and partnership on Government of Canada wide initiatives involving the interests of persons with disabilities.
- Updates on several other administrative improvements to the DTC program as a whole, an example of which includes amendments to the text of the Notice of Determination when eligibility has been denied, with a perspective of providing extensive information to taxpayers on their recourse rights and the applicable processes for each step.
Prior to this meeting, the Committee had an adhoc meeting on October 19th with a specific focus on the DTC digital application. Tremendous progress has been made on the development of this application. A demo was provided to the DAC members in order to showcase the progress made and also to make known that their feedback from the last meeting in February 2020 had been incorporated. The application has been designed to simplify the process for medical practitioners and to gather the necessary information up front, thus limiting the need for clarification letters.
The Committee also had a discussion on their work plan for 2021, including stakeholder engagement to raise awareness of tax measures, monitoring of DTC reforms, policy recommendations, and Indigenous issues.
During the meeting, the Committee had the opportunity to hear from representatives from Indigenous Services Canada to discuss Jordan’s Principle as well as from the Department of Finance on a number of current and future DTC policy and administration related knowledge.
The Committee continued with a discussion regarding their second annual report, specifically around new the recommendations that will be in the report.
Committee members look forward to presenting their annual report and recommendations to Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier and Canada Revenue Agency Commissioner Bob Hamilton in the coming months.
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