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Panel proposes tax aid for disability, program expenditures still needed.

OTTAWA -- Tax-based initiatives to help disabled Canadians has its limitations, the Technical Advisory Committee on Tax Measures for Persons with Disabilities recommends and urges the federal government to provide additional funding for persons with disabilities through expenditure programs and not just through tax programs.

The committee offered 24 recommendations for changes to the Disability Tax Credit to provide for:

* clearer eligibility definitions,

* enhance the Disability Tax

Credit to include physiotherapists in the list of qualified practitioners,

* an increase in the maximum amount available for the medical expenses supplement $562 to $1,000,

* an increase in the Child Disability Credit,

* enhanced tax credits to help caregivers of disabled children,

* enhancements to registered education savings plans for students with disabilities,

* a comprehensive review of taxing of CPP disability benefits,

* a review of tax credits for businesses to encourage employment of persons with disabilities and, in particular, similar to that offered in the United States.

The Canadian Association for Community Living and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities welcomed the report stating: "While encouraged by the report, the disability community believes this must be considered as one piece of a disability agenda. The Federal Government must look at its broader role in addressing the poverty of persons with disabilities and their families, the lack of available and affordable disability supports, and the need to ensure that these measures are inclusive of Aboriginal persons with disabilities. The tax system is limited in its ability to address these issues effectively."

The Committee on Tax Measures was appointed by the federal government in April 2003 to advise the Ministers of Finance and National Revenue

on disability-related tax measures. The Committee examined all past reports prepared for various federal departments, task forces and committees on disability issues, particularly, previous work on the disability tax credit. It also provided a website designed to share information and receive submissions from disability groups and professional organizations. The Committee received 49 submissions from labour and organizations concerned with persons with disabilities.

The 12-member Committee was co-chaired by Sherri Torjman of the Caledon Institute of Social Policy and by Robert Brown, a tax and economic policy consultant at Price Waterhouse. Members included: Brian Arnold, a tax lawyer; Michael Bach, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Association for Community Living; Laurie Beachell, National Co-ordinator, Council of Canadians with Disabilities; Harry Beatty, a lawyer specializing in disability law; Gail Beck, M.D., Director, Youth Inpatient Psychiatry, Royal Ottawa Hospital; Gary Birch, Executive Director, Neil Squire Foundation; Lembi Buchanan, Chair, Coalition for Disability Tax Credit Reform; Karen Cohen, Associate Director, Canadian Psychological Association; Yude Henteleff, Honorary Solicitor, the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada; and Guy Lord, Senior Partner, Osier, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.
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Title Annotation:Disability; Technical Advisory Committee on Tax Measures for Persons with Disabilities
Publication:Community Action
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 24, 2005
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