Senate committee urges feds to reform programs to help people with disabilities,

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OTTAWA — A Senate committee tasked with studying the Disability Tax Credit and a disabilities savings plan says the two programs need to be overhauled and is urging the government to do more to help the disabled.

Sen. Art Eggleton says less than 40 per cent of people living with disabilities can access the two programs, partly because of the strict eligibility criteria.

The committee says the criteria are unfair because they focus on people with physical disabilities, leaving behind people with neurodevelopmental disorders or mental disabilities.

Sen. Judith Seidman says the deck is also stacked against people with episodic conditions like multiple sclerosis.

The Disability Tax Credit is intended to help people living with disabilities by reducing their income tax.

The Registered Disability Savings Plan helps the disabled or their caregivers save for the future by putting money into a fund that grows tax free until the beneficiary makes a withdrawal.

The problem is that a lot of people can’t access the credit or have had their application denied.

In the 2016-17 fiscal year, 45,157 tax credit applications were rejected, compared with 30,235 the previous year.

The report made 16 recommendations aimed at improving both programs, including a call to remove barriers to eligibility.

The Canadian Press