Section 4 – Health, Seniors and Caregivers

Medical Expense Credit

An individual is entitled to a non-refundable tax credit for medical expenses paid for himself/herself, his/her spouse or a dependent during a 12-month period ended in the year1 and which was not used in the prior year.

Example: An individual whose receipts cover the period from August 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021 can use medical expenses for the period from August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021 or any other 12-month period ending in 2021.

The expenses must not have been reimbursed nor be reimbursable. Details about this tax credit for 2020, including the minimum eligible expense threshold, can be found in your province’s Individuals Taxation tables.

1 The reference period is 24 months in the year of death of the taxpayer or a dependent.

Eligible Expenses

The list of eligible medical expenses is updated periodically to take new technologies or other changes into account. The list includes2:

  • Payments to medical practitioners, dentists or nurses, or to public or licensed private hospitals in respect of medical or dental services;
  • Additional costs related to the purchase of non-gluten food products;
  • Expenses paid for training courses for a taxpayer or a related person in respect of the care of a person with a mental or physical impairment, who lives with or is a dependent of the taxpayer;
  • Cost of purchased or leased products, equipment or devices that provide relief, assistance or treatment for any illness;
  • Certain travel and moving expenses to provide a person with access to care or accommodation that is more suitable to his/her needs;
  • Premiums paid to private health insurance plans as well as the premium paid to the QPPDIP and the New Brunswick Drug Plan (including deductible and co-insurance portions);
  • Employer premiums or payments to a private health insurance plan that are included in the employee’s income as a taxable benefit for the year (Quebec);
  • Remuneration for tutoring persons with learning disabilities, or other mental impairments, if the need for such services is certified by a medical practitioner;
  • Reasonable supplemental expenses for the construction or renovation of a residence to enable a person with a serious, prolonged handicap to have access to this residence, to move around and to carry out activities of daily living;
  • Eligible expenses for an animal specially trained to assist a person with certain impairments;
  • Expenses incurred for a personalized treatment plan;
  • Expenses incurred for cannabis or cannabis products purchased for medical purposes.

Remember to include premiums paid to a private health services plan by you or your spouse and your employer (for Quebec purposes only in the latter case) as medical expenses (see Section V).

The Ontario health premium (see Section XII) is not an eligible expense for the medical expense credit. In addition, expenses paid strictly for aesthetic purposes (such as teeth whitening, face-lift or liposuction) are normally not eligible. For Quebec purposes, the amount for the purchase of frames for eyeglasses is limited to $200 per person.

2 Certain conditions have to be met. Details are provided in government publications, including the list of eligible medical expenses published by the CRA.

Fertility treatments

Certain costs related to the use of reproductive technologies, amounts paid for prescription drugs, including the cost of prescribed fertility medication are eligible expenses for the medical expense tax credit. In-vitro fertilization procedures and associated expenses are also eligible expenses, even if the procedures are not medically indicated due to a medical condition of infertility3.

In Quebec, costs related to a fertility treatment may give entitlement to refundable tax credit for infertility treatment (see Section II) in which case they will not qualify for the medical expenses tax credit.

3 Before 2017, a medical infertility diagnosis was required. Nevertheless, individuals covered by the new measure can elect in their tax returns to have it apply to one of the past ten taxation years.

Adjustment for Medical Expenses Claimed for Dependents

For federal purposes, taxpayers can claim the amount by which the medical expenses paid for a dependent (grandfather, grandmother, nephew, niece, etc.) exceeds the lesser of 3% of the dependent’s net income and $2,4214.

In Quebec, there is no maximum for medical expenses incurred for a dependent and taxpayers are not required to take account of the net income of a dependent, for the purposes of the minimum expense threshold, in respect of whom a medical expense credit is being claimed.

4 $2,462 in Ontario (up to a maximum amount of $13,274 in expenses) and $2,391 in New Brunswick. No expense limit is applicable in jurisdictions other than Ontario. Amounts for 2021, indexed annually.

Refundable Medical Expense Credit

An adult may claim a refundable credit for medical expenses if he/she is also claiming the non-refundable credit for medical expenses or the disability supports deduction and if his/her earned income is at least $3,751 ($3,175 in Quebec). The maximum credit is $1,285 ($1,241 in Quebec) and is reduced when net family income exceeds $28,446 ($24,000 in Quebec)5.

5 Amounts for 2021, indexed annually.

Credit for Medical Services Not Incurred in Taxpayer’s Area – Quebec

Quebec offers a non-refundable medical credit for travel and accommodation costs paid to obtain medical care not available in the area where the taxpayer or the dependent lives. The care must be obtained in a location at least 200 kilometres from the patient’s residence. Moving expenses incurred to move to a location in Quebec that is within 80 kilometres of the health care establishment also qualify for this special medical credit if the treatment will last at least six months and equivalent medical care is not available at least 200 kilometres from the former residence. While these expenses could also be claimed as medical expenses, there is no 3% minimum expense threshold as there is for the medical expense credit.

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