October 26, 2017

Diabetes Canada refutes Canada Revenue Agency’s justification for denying Disability Tax Credit to people with diabetes

People living with type 1 diabetes and health-care providers are speaking out against the claim made by Minister Lebouthillier that denying people with diabetes access to the Disability Tax Credit is justified on the grounds that technological advancements have made the disease quicker to manage.

“While technological advancements such as insulin pumps offer people with diabetes a better chance at blood sugar control, it does not make managing the disease less time consuming,” says Dr. Jan Hux, chief science officer with Diabetes Canada.

As Ashley Granville, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for 24 years notes: “Yes, with an insulin pump I am not giving as many daily injections and it has helped me to have tighter blood sugar control, which is great, but on a daily basis I am still constantly pricking my fingers and testing my blood sugar levels, calculating insulin doses, treating low and high blood sugar levels.”

“Many adults living with type 1 diabetes need to invest significant amounts of time each week to managing their condition,” says Dr. Tom Elliot, medical director of BC Diabetes. “Between testing their blood sugar six to 10 times a day, calculating doses of insulin, filling syringes or priming their insulin pump and logging and reacting to trends in their blood sugar values, managing diabetes is most certainly a part-time job for many.”

Managing type 1 diabetes has been likened in complexity to flying a plane, by a study that found it can take up to 600 steps each day to contend with all that goes into living with the disease.

 “We spend hours every week pouring over our son Liam’s data to spot patterns, decipher possible pump adjustments and work through trial and error,” says Samantha Roth, mother of Liam, age 4, who lives with type 1 diabetes. “I spend countless hours every day researching every bit of information I can find to help me better deal with each new curveball type 1 diabetes throws our way.”

The costs of diabetes can be crippling. As Amanda Myers, who lives with type 1 diabetes, notes: “I am a single mom, work full-time and don’t qualify for any government assistance programs. I’ve been begging and paying for my own supplies for years and feel I am paying to stay alive. I recently had to sell my house to make ends meet, so I ration my insulin, starve myself and don’t test as often as I should because I can’t afford the test strips.”

Not all doctors are comfortable certifying their patients’ applications for the disease, because many of the activities that count toward the required 14 hours are performed at home rather in the doctor’s office. Still, they must be performed daily, and many doctors know that. “My patient has provided a summary of her time spent doing the applicable diabetes related tasks. I cannot provide 100 per cent conclusive evidence for this time as I do not live with her; however these time parameters are certainly reasonable,” states Dr. Mark Inman, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan.

“Our request is not that the CRA change the current guidelines around what activities can be counted against the 14 hour requirement,” explains Kimberley Hanson, director of federal affairs with Diabetes Canada. “Our request is that the CRA accept the certifications of doctors and nurses saying their patients are spending the requisite 14 hours on the allowed activities, and grant patients fair and equitable access to this credit.”

About Diabetes Canada

Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:

  • Educational programs and support services;
  • Resources for health-care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
  • Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
  • Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.

For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

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For more information or to book an interview:

Sherry Calder

Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications

Diabetes Canada

T: 902-453-3529

C: 902-210-1799

sherry.calder@diabetes.ca