The Supreme Court of Canada in Carter v. Canada[1] ruled that Canadians are entitled to obtain medical assistance to end their lives under appropriate circumstances (See Bulletin on Medical Assistance in Dying – Who is Eligible and What is the Process?) A question that stems from this decision is whether the costs for engaging in medical assistance in dying are eligible medical expenses for the purposes of the medical expense tax credit ("METC"). This question was put to the Canada Revenue Agency ("CRA"), and in response, the CRA issued a Technical Interpretation on the topic.

The METC is a non-refundable tax credit that can be claimed on your income tax and benefit return if you, or your spouse or common-law partner paid for healthcare expenses that are considered eligible medical expenses.

Eligible medical expenses include amounts paid for medical services provided by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner, as well as medications, preparations or substances that meet specific requirements in the Income Tax Act[2].

In addition, you can only claim the part of an eligible medical expense for which you have not been or will not be reimbursed.

In its Technical Interpretation[3], the CRA states its view that services for medical assistance in dying, including expenses paid for the services and the cost of medicaments or other preparations or substances used for the services, are medical services for the purpose of the METC when they are provided by a medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or a public or licensed private hospital for medical assistance in dying, as outlined in the Criminal Code[4], in conjunction with the requirements of the respective provincial and territorial health-related laws, rules and policies, as applicable.

There are certain conditions that must be met in order to claim amounts paid as medical expenses (as set out in section 118.2 of the ITA). Specifically, the cost of medicaments or other preparations or substances is an eligible medical expense if it is prescribed by a medical practitioner and its purchase is recorded by a pharmacist[5], or if it is prescribed by a medical practitioner and it may be lawfully acquired only with the intervention of a medical practitioner[6].

This news will hopefully provide some measure of comfort to those who are, or whose family members are, contemplating medical assistance in dying.