Letter: help rural patients curb cancer expenses

Sign petition at bottom of this letter to allow medical expenses carry-over


I am a retired woman living in a small town.

Like many seniors, I work part-time to supplement my pension income. In 2016, I was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to work.

OK, by now 90 per cent of you have stopped reading. Two of the most boring topics on the planet are cancer and seniors; add taxes and this is slam dunk loser – not sexy subjects.

Most of you have already figured out there are no amusing stories here, no heartwarming tales of rescued animals or abandoned puppies. There is a mention later of rescue cats if that will entice you to keep reading.

Seniors, cancer patients and taxpayers should keep reading, especially if you live in a small town.

I spent the summer at a cancer centre. I stayed in motels Monday to Friday while receiving chemo and radiation treatments, then drove home on the weekends.

The cost of motels, food and gas were expensive.

Many of the people I met at the cancer centre were unable to go home on weekends. Their costs were obviously much higher.

Cancer centres are only available in major cities in Canada. Everyone living in small communities must travel long distances for treatment.

This is true of every province and territory in Canada; and true not just for cancer centres, but also for every major medical and recuperative centre in Canada.

Medical travel expenses are deductible against taxes payable. However, you have only one calendar year to claim the expenses on your taxes.

If your income goes down because you were sick and not able to work, your taxable income drops, so you likely cannot recover all of your expenses.

That is one huge catch-22. By the time you are able to work again, you are no longer able to claim -time has run out.

Expenses cannot be brought forward and claimed in the following years.

To add insult to injury, medical travel costs are capped just like any other medical expenses. So, we will never be able to recover in full.

Canadians lucky enough to live near larger cities where cancer centres are located do not need to think about motels and meal expenses. About 20 million rural Canadians are not so lucky. We have to worry not only about the cure, but also the cost of the cure.

You lucky ones can stop reading now – unless, of course, you know someone who lives in a small town or you want to hear about the rescue cats.

I was very fortunate to have savings to call upon, but many people I met at the cancer centre were having difficulty meeting the costs. Some were worried about going into debt in order to save their lives.

I strongly believe that rural Canadians should be allowed to bring forward medical travel expenses and apply them to taxes earned in the future until the costs are fully recovered.

Now, I agree the costs have to be reasonable: no Hilton hotels or room service!

I stayed in motels that offered “special hospital rates.” But even with hospital rates, make sure you get cancer in low season. Being sick in high season is not good thing!

But I kept my costs as reasonable as I could.

To change this catch-22 in the tax act, I wrote a petition on Change.org challenging Bill Morneau to “Change the Tax Act,” but it has not got many signatures.

I have also prepared a petition on the House of Commons website; but again, not enough interest.

If I were a person with a really sick puppy or horse, I would have (a ton) donations, and signatures.!

But I am just an old lady with two healthy rescue cats.

If you want to sign the petition, click here. Search for petition # e-1311 and sign, please.

Please help and pass this along to your friends and families.

Anne Rouleau


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