The Disability Tax Credit: Protecting You From “Broken Promises”
A recent article in the Globe and Mail suggests that the Canadian government “broke” a promise to its disabled citizens: first by being relatively late in recognizing the rights of the disabled and second by shoddy, almost disinterested enforcement of the laws it was late in enacting.
At the heart of author’s argument looms the fact that Canada has never instituted its own version of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), that landmark piece of US legislation which was the first to fully recognize the rights of the disabled. The author points out that Canada’s disabled “had to wait until the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms – and even there, activism was necessary in pressuring the government to include disability in the Charter.”
The article goes on to state that Canadian courts have been “…reluctant to embrace the spirit of the Charter when it comes to equal rights for the disabled” and cites a 1997 ruling by the Canadian Supreme Court which stated that “segregating people with disabilities in education isn’t always discriminatory.”
The article’s author, David Pettinicchio, lays the blame for what he sees as Canada’s mishandling of disabled rights largely at the feet of the various provinces, who have muddied the overall situation by enacting a plethora of their own regulations and statutes that are often in direct conflict with aspects of the Charter and which, among other things, work to keep disabled incomes disproportionately low.
Bolstering his thesis is a recent column in the Winnipeg Free Press in which Ravi Malhotra points out that there are actually laws on the books today in Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan that allow employers to pay disabled citizens less than the non-disabled.
Pettinicchio states these types of misguided laws are allowed to linger on the books because of “…the lack of federal resources allocated to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. And… “the failure of the Canadian government to monitor compliance when it comes to disability discrimination.” All of which means the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon.
The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is one component of the government’s assistance to the disabled that has been widely hailed for its effectiveness. The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada calls the DTC “a valuable component of the Government of Canada’s measures to support persons with disabilities.” Still, while the MSSC praises the DTC they also say that “it has proven complex and confusing in application.”
This assessment underscores the need for disabled persons to have a powerful, knowledgeable advocate in their corner during the DTC application and approval process and no one is better suited to be that advocate than the team at Disability Credit Canada.