Readout: Disability Advisory Committee Meeting – May 9, 2022

Co-chairs Dr. Karen Cohen and Frank Vermaeten opened the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) meeting on May 9, 2022 by welcoming the Honourable Minister of National Revenue, Minister Lebouthillier and the Deputy Commissioner of the CRA, Mme Brigitte Diogo. The meeting was also attended by officials from the Department of Finance Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

CRA senior leadership began the meeting describing the recent reorganization within the Assessment Benefits Service Branch. The Disability, Indigenous, and Benefits Outreach Services Directorate (DIBOSD) was created April 1, 2022, with a focus on engaging with Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and with partner departments to support the needs of these communities.

CRA then offered updates to the DAC regarding outreach done with Indigenous peoples in recent months and the use of stakeholder relationships in those efforts.

The Department of Finance Canada provided highlights from Budget 2021 in relation to disability issues. The DAC had previously proposed legislative changes around eligibility to the Disability tax credit (DTC), specifically around mental functions and life-sustaining therapy. Both of those items are within Bill C19 which recently completed its second reading in the House.

ESDC presented the current status of the Canada Disability Benefit. They indicated they had recently concluded consultations with Indigenous stakeholders and members of the disability community discussing the proposed benefit and are currently looking at their next phase of engagement. As part of the discussions, members shared their views on the proposed design of the benefit and the implications it could have on the DTC.

DAC member, Brendon Pooran, led a discussion on issues with the registered disability savings plan (RDSP) as it relates to the DTC. The focus of the discussion revolved around the barriers related to legal authorization and additional complexities persons with disabilities face in relation to the RDSP. Questions were raised by committee members and were addressed by officials from ESDC and the Department of Finance Canada.

The DAC discussed their upcoming report and progress made, and indicated that the content should be ready for the Committee’s review in the coming weeks for a potential publication date in September.

Minister Lebouthillier noted her continued commitment to the DAC and thanked the members for the work they do for persons with disabilities and their families. Minister Lebouthillier offered her appreciation to the outgoing DAC members whose terms are set to expire at the end of June. Those members include co-chair Dr. Karen Cohen, vice-chair Sherri Torjman, Laurie Beachell, Gary Birch, Roberta Heale, Marie Ryan, and Ray McGuire.

The meeting closed with remarks from the Deputy Commissioner, Brigitte Diogo, who also offered her thanks on behalf of the Commissioner’s office and her commitment to continue to learn more about the great work the DAC has accomplished thus far.

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