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OPINION: Rural Canadians deserve break on medical travel

Canadians lucky enough to live in larger cities where cancer centres are located do not need to think about motels and meal expenses during treatments. About 20 million rural Canadians are not so lucky.
Canadians lucky enough to live in larger cities where cancer centres are located do not need to think about motels and meal expenses during treatments. About 20 million rural Canadians are not so lucky. - The Guardian

Canadians lucky enough to live in larger cities where cancer centres are located do not need to think about motels and meal expenses during treatments. About 20 million rural Canadians are not so lucky.

BY ANNE TANSEY ROULEAU

GUEST OPINION

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.

OK, by now 90 per cent of you have stopped reading. Three of the most boring topics on the planet are cancer, seniors and taxes. Most of you have already figured out that there are no amusing stories here, no rescued animals or abandoned puppies. But seniors, cancer patients and taxpayers should keep reading particularly if you live in a small town or know someone who does. Everyone living in small communities must travel long distances for cancer treatment.

I spent the summer near a cancer centre, staying in motels while having chemo and radiation treatments. This is expensive and worse, I could not continue to work.
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 unable to work, your taxable income drops. So, you cannot recover your travel costs. 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.

These expenses cannot be brought forward and claimed in following years.

Canadians lucky enough to live in larger cities where cancer centres are located do not need to think about motels and meal expenses during treatments. About 20 million rural Canadians are not so lucky.

I strongly believe that rural Canadians should be allowed to bring forward reasonable medical travel expenses and apply them to taxes paid in the future until the costs are fully recovered.
I have prepared a petition on the House of Commons website to protest this inequity in our tax laws. Please go to the Commons website at: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Home/ndex. Search for petition # e-1311 and sign it, please.

- Anne Tansey Rouleau of Penticton, B.C. is a cancer victim who has been unable to recover her medical travel costs

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