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Another CRA “Review” Passed

The CRA does seem to enjoy asking me for documentation for my tax returns, but I have manged to appease the Tax Mavens for now and have passed yet another Tax Return Review.

For those who have not had the CRA tap them on the shoulder and ask, “Excuse me, but we’d like to actually see the receipts for all those expenses you have claimed”, which is what a Claim Review is, it is not an audit, but with the proliferation of E-file’ing the CRA does like to double-check to make sure we are claiming all the credits that we can (OK, that is me being overly optimistic, it might be that they want to check our facts as well).

The trigger this time was a very large medical expense claim, and having three children at University at the same time sent up a red flag somewhere in Shawinigan, so I was asked to supply receipts for these claims.

The Medical Expense claim was high because:

  • Thanks to our friend at the Blunt Bean Counter I had made a claim about education expenses for my son being a medical expense, which had already been OK’ed last year after I submitted a review request. This is an important expense for Parents with disabled children who are at specialized schools (I don’t seem to have written anything about this one, so my apologies, I will be writing one very soon about that). This is a straight forward claim, however, I will elaborate on it very soon.
  • My son works with an Occupational Therapist (that my medical insurance refuses to cover) which I also claim

As for the University side of things I needed to supply the T2202A  forms for all three of my kids (signed by each of them) with the tuition amounts on them as well.

The cool part about this review was that I realized that I could log onto the CRA account using my On Line Banking User ID (i.e. my bank card and password) and using that I was able to send copies of all my documentation on-line without having to mail the originals to the CRA.  This made this much simpler, and made the process easier for me, so I must tip my hat to the CRA for adding this feature (who says no good ideas come out of the government?).

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Hospital Parking Rant

Part of dealing with a loved one in hospital, has now become the exorbitant rates that are being charged for the parking at the hospital. Why is it that hospitals are using their parking as a major income source for the Hospital Foundation? Paying at least $10 for a short visit and more than $20 for the day seems normal.

This way to Hospital Parking

This way to Hospital Parking

The Canadian Medical association has commented that the parking fees are actually an impediment to good medical care, and I think I agree with them. CBC Marketplace did an interesting piece on this topic as well, which outlines some of the scarier numbers about folks, cars and hospitals.

I watched my Father-in-law spend an entire year visiting my late Mother-in-law in hospital (a few years back now), and the only reason he didn’t end up paying more than $7000 in parking fees was that someone in the Oncology department got him access to cheaper parking (he still paid a bloody fortune). I know my Father-in-law was not going to stop visiting his sick wife in hospital just because of the parking fees, but it is nuts to drain this kind of money from people with sick loved ones.

I realize that parking for hospitals (in Canada at least) can be an issue since many are in downtown areas, where parking space is at a premium, but why does parking have to be a profit center for Hospitals?

From the CBC Marketplace piece here are some examples of Maximum Parking rates at various hospitals:

From Marketplace

  • Toronto General Hospital: $28
  • Stollery Children’s Hospital, Edmonton: $15-$32
  • Vancouver General Hospital: $19.75
  • Markham-Stouffville Hospital, Markham, Ont: $17
  • Saskatoon City Hospital: $15
  • QEII Health Sciences Centre, Halifax: $14


All I can say is wow, that is a lot of money to pay out, especially if you need to get to the hospital for treatment.


Medical Expenses and Taxes

Remember that if you have enough Medical Expenses it might be worth mentioning them on your Federal Tax returns.

Last year was a bigger year for medical expenses for me because of the following:

  • One of my daughters ruptured her ACL, and there was a fair amount of expenses there, including a brace and physio therapy.
  • I needed physio therapy for my knee, due to me getting old
  • My other daughter also had physio
  • Some visits to Psychologist for testing for my kids
  • Occupational Therapy for another kid

Now a great deal of this was covered under my health plan, but only up to 80% of the expense, and there was a limit to how much was paid for the year.

All of this adds up to over $7000 in expenses, but I must also then put in how much compensation I received from my Health insurance as well. It may add up to nothing, but it is something to think about.

How  was I able to know this? I checked on my Quicken, of course (sorry for the blatant plug, but it is actually the case in this instance). I put it all into my TurboTax (or you could use UFile as well) and it was easy enough to put it all in too (another blatant plug, but stay tuned there will be a giveaway coming too).


The Cost of Joint Replacement

Speaking as someone with deteriorating joints (quickly in the case of my knees) and living through watching my mother’s joints deteriorate, the science (and business) of joint rehabilitation and/or the cost of joint replacement is a topic very near and dear to my heart. Ted.com does another very interesting (shorter) talk about this affliction that will hit many more folks than Cancer will, and may end up costing the medical industry a great deal more in the long run (with more people living longer, but being immobile because of issues with joint deterioration (or the catch all phrase Arthritis for now)).

The science of replacement of Hips and Knees are now pretty straight forward, but what about shoulders, ankles, and even more interestingly lumbar work (specifically the spinal column), what can be done there?

When you are in your 80’s, are you going to be able to walk to the corner store?

Arthritis and injury grind down millions of joints, but few get the best remedy — real biological tissue. Kevin Stone shows a treatment that could sidestep the high costs and donor shortfall of human-to-human transplants with a novel use of animal tissue.


Video: Canadian Medical System

So I have been living a similar type story for my daughter, as this young lady (a speaker at the TED conferences)  lived through, but I didn’t speed things up the way she did, I will write about what I did do, but only after I am sure the surgery has happened and I don’t accidently jinx the whole process.

This tale of woe is actually fairly typical from what I can tell, for everyone in Canada, unless you are a hockey, baseball, football player or some other professional athlete, which more is the pity.

I tend to think that the system in the UK is maybe the best system, where if you have the money, or are willing to pay, you can get surgery right away, however, everyone gets access to the system and in the “free” system the wait times are not as long as we have here in Canada.

When Allison Hunt found out that she needed a new hip — and that Canada’s national health care system would require her to spend nearly 2 years on a waiting list (and in pain) — she took matters into her own hands.

An interesting talk.

and now some shameless advertising:
Questrade Democratic Pricing - 1 cent per share, $4.95 min / $9.95 max

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