Last month, Canada’s Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) released their first annual report which amongst other recommendations, stated that all Canadians receiving life-sustaining therapy (eg. insulin) should qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).
The DAC was established in late 2017 by the Minister of National Revenue following successful efforts by JDRF Canada and Diabetes Canada to restore access to the DTC for more than a thousand adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) who had been denied due to a change in eligibility requirements. The DAC’s mandate is to advise the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on how it can improve the way it administers and interprets tax measures for Canadians with disabilities, and how it can better respond to the needs and expectations of this community.
The loss of the DTC was a significant blow to the financial well-being of members of the T1D community. This report, which it presented to the minister of National Revenue and the CRA commissioner, is creating hope that the daily realities of type 1 diabetes will be made a bit less stressful for people like JDRF advocate Kelsey Levandoski, who took it upon herself to visit her Member of Parliament (MP) to discuss her concerns about issues with the DTC.
Diagnosed with T1D 20 years ago at the age of 8, Kelsey’s family was presented with many challenges and as one of four children in her household, the costs were adding up quickly. She had been in and out of the hospital with low blood sugar levels and more serious diabetes complications. Last year, she was finally able to start on a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), which gave her the blood glucose control she desperately needed.
This year, Kelsey started on an insulin pump and feels she now has the ability to self-manage her condition. “I feel like I am more in control of my type 1,” she says. “Although it is still a challenging thing to live with, I now have the tools to be able to live better, but it comes with costs and sacrifices.”
Luckily, Kelsey has coverage through her employer, but like most plans, there is a maximum which doesn’t take long to reach, leaving her to pay out of pocket for these supplies. The CGM and insulin pump supplies alone are over $700 monthly excluding insulin, test strips, ketone strips, etc.
When she learned about the DTC through a social media group, she wanted to take advantage of it. After jumping through many hoops to get her healthcare professional on board, Kelsey was denied not once, but twice before she decided she was going to have to advocate for herself. She visited the office of her MP Larry Maguire, and sought his help. Kelsey’s determination and self-advocacy resulted in a win for her – she was approved for the DTC up until 2023.
Kelsey’s advocacy efforts are a great example of what happens when we speak up to make change happen. However, this should not be such a difficult path for people. As the DAC report suggests, the federal government should make the DTC refundable for all persons with disabilities, including those living with T1D.
“I envision fewer obstacles for people,” says Kelsey. “Type 1 diabetes isn’t your ‘typical disability’ but is time consuming, costly and a very exhausting condition. For some families, it’s a matter of choosing between paying bills or purchasing insulin and that is a position no one in Canada should be put in. I found my voice through this experience and I want to continue to help and be a voice for as many people as possible”.
You too can influence change by joining Kelsey and the rest of our advocate team to improve policies that affect all people living with T1D. Join us and make a strong impact with your personal story.