Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship - Where Do Federal Party Leaders Stand?

Media Release

September 1, 2015  |  For Immediate Release

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) urges all federal political parties to promise Canadians with disabilities, who as a group are among the poorest Canadians, to reform the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), making it refundable. A refundable DTC would give $2,000 to all eligible tax filers, whether or not they owe income tax. (The $2,000 figure includes the current federal amount of the DTC and an assumed average provincial/territorial amount.) "A refundable DTC would help offset additional costs for persons living with significant disabilities, regardless of the person’s income," states Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson.  "It would provide a modest annual amount of money to many people with disabilities living on low income. It would be a first step toward poverty alleviation for people with disabilities."

People with severe and prolonged physical or mental impairments, who qualify, can claim the DTC when filing their taxes. The value of the DTC is subtracted from federal tax owing.  For those with little or no tax owing, the DTC has little benefit.  Michael Mendelson of the Caledon Institute has estimated that in 2012 there were approximately 755,000 working age Canadians who qualified for the DTC but did not benefit because their incomes were too low. 

The DTC was created as a tax fairness measure that increases equity between taxpayers with and without disabilities by offsetting the extra costs of disability of taxpayers who have a taxable income. "CCD views a refundable DTC as a priority step in improving the income security of Canadians with disabilities," states John Rae, a CCD Vice Chair.  "A refundable DTC could be achieved in the short term and would make a difference in the day-to-day lives of eligible people with disabilities living on low incomes."

Action on a refundable DTC is urgently needed. CCD reminds the federal political parties that throughout the working years (15-64 years of age) people with disabilities remain about twice as likely as those without disabilities to live with low incomes. People with disabilities are much less likely than people without to have jobs. Even where employed, people with disabilities are 1.5 times more likely than people without to live with low income. 18.4% of working-age women with disabilities in low income households are lone parents compared with 9.9% of their counterparts who live above the low income measures used by Statistics Canada and 7.9% of women without disabilities.  "When Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2010, it committed to ensuring that Canadians with disabilities enjoy an adequate standard of living.  A refundable DTC would move Canada closer toward achieving this benchmark," states Dolan.

"The refundable DTC was the number one recommendation of CCD's just completed research initiative, Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship (DPEC). DPEC, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, brought together community and academic researchers to investigate solutions to the poverty experienced by a disproportionate number of Canadians with disabilities," states Rae. 


For more information contact:

Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson, Tel: 902-626-1752 (cell).
John Rae, CCD Second Vice Chairperson, Tel: 416-941-1547.
James Hicks, CCD National Coordinator, Tel: 343-291-1118.

About CCD - CCD is a national organization of people with disabilities that works for an accessible and inclusive Canada.

For more on the refundable disability tax credit, please go to http://www.ccdonline.ca/en/socialpolicy/income/refund-disability-tax-credit.