I can claim that? What you need to know about claiming specialized medical care.

May 2, 2022

If you or a loved one needed specialized medical care during the year (like palliative care or another health-related expense), you might have some additional medical expenses that others don’t. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Revenu Québec offer some relief by using the cost of your eligible medical expenses to lower the taxes you owe. The more you claim, the more you’ll get from your return.

In this article, we’ll go over claiming specialized medical care.

Click the section below for more information:

Commonly missed medical expenses

When it comes to claiming medical expenses, there’s a long list of the potential expenses you can claim. You might be eligible to claim the cost of expenses such as hearing aids, insulin, and diabetic supplies. Depending on your situation, you might also be able to claim lesser-known expenses like marijuana (if you had a prescription).

For a list of some commonly missed medical expenses, check out this blog on medical expenses you don’t want to forget to claim.

Still not sure about what you can claim? The best way to find out if you can claim your medical expenses is to check the searchable table on the CRA website. Québec residents can check what medical expenses they can claim on their return by downloading the PDF document on the Revenu Québec website.

Are there any new medical expenses I can claim?

Yes! The CRA and Revenu Québec occasionally add new expenses that can be claimed on your return. This year, new eligible medical expenses include the following:

  • If you’re a Québec resident, you can now claim the cost of your sessions with a certified psychotherapist on your return (as long as your therapist has a permit to practice from the Ordre des psychologues du Québec).
  • Acupuncturists are now an eligible expense for Nova Scotia residents.
  • Speech language therapists are now an eligible expense for Nova Scotia residents.

I want to claim medical marijuana on my return — what should I know?

If you wanted to claim the cost of medical marijuana on your return, you’ll need a prescription from an approved medical practitioner (like your doctor) and you’ll need to make sure you bought your cannabis from a licensed producer (keep your receipts!).

Keep in mind, you can only claim the cost of:

  • Medical fresh or dried cannabis
  • Cannabis oils
  • Cannabis seeds and plants

You can’t claim the following expenses on your return:

  • Recreational cannabis
  • Any costs related to growing cannabis (including fertilizers)
  • Accessories, including lights, containers and other storage, vaporizers, pipes, capsules, or capsule filler machines

Specialized medical care

Specialized medical care refers to medical expenses that have a specific or specialized component to it. This might include people who need individual therapy plans or treatments, or even those who need assistance from someone with specific training.

What are some examples of specialized medical care?

Common examples of specialized medical care include:

Personal therapy plans:

You can claim the cost of their personal therapy plans, such as one created by psychologists, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, chiropractor, etc. as specialized medical care if they meet certain eligibility criteria. To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your prescription is written by an approved medical practitioner (which varies by province, you can check if your practitioner is approved by visiting the CRA’s website);
  • You must be eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC); and
  • Your plan must have been prescribed and designed by a psychologist, doctor, nurse practitioner or occupational therapist for a mental or physical impairment.

Note: If you receive psychotherapy, you'll be able to expense the cost of your treatments/sessions, but only if you are a resident of Québec.

Service animals:

You can claim the cost of purchasing and caring for (including the cost of buying food and veterinarian care) a specially trained service animal if:

  • You’re blind;
  • You’re profoundly deaf;
  • You have a severe and prolonged physical impairment that restricts the use of your arms or legs;
  • You’re autistic;
  • You’re epileptic; or
  • You’re affected by severe diabetes.

You can also claim travel expenses (within reason) to go to a school or similar institution that provides training for handling your service animal.

Keep in mind, emotional support animals aren’t considered eligible medical expenses. You can’t claim the cost of your emotional support animal as a deduction on your return.

Rehabilitation centres:

Rehabilitation centres that treat individuals with addictions to drugs, alcohol, or gambling are another form of specialized medical care. You can claim the total amount you paid for the staying at the rehabilitation centre and any training you received there.

Can I claim the cost of palliative care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care that’s made for individuals who are living with a severe illness (such as cancer, advanced heart disease or Alzheimer’s). It provides pain relief and other forms of relief to help the person with the illness as well as their family maintain a level of comfort and dignity.

Palliative care can be provided in:

  • Hospitals;
  • At home;
  • Long-term care facilities; or
  • Hospice (a home for people living with a terminal illness).

The CRA and Revenu Québec recognize that, although hospitals are designed to address severe and urgent needs, they might not be the best place for comfortable end-of-life care. There’s no single national palliative care program, but the federal government and healthcare institutions are working together to develop better coverage for those who need palliative care. For now, palliative care is managed by the provincial government and private institutions. What’s free to access and what you’ll need to pay for (and therefore what you can claim as a medical expense) depends on your province and the facility that provided the palliative care.

To learn more about what palliative care is and what might be offered in your province, visit the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association website.

What do I need to claim my medical expenses?

To claim medical expenses, you’ll need to keep your supporting documents on file for at least 6 years, in case the CRA or Revenu Québec requests to see them later. Keep in mind, the CRA and/or Revenu Québec might need different documents for different types of expenses. For example, some need a prescription, while other types of expenses need a written certificate or a signed T2201 form (for the disability tax credit). If you’re mailing a paper return, you’ll have to attach your receipts when you file.

Your supporting documents include:

  • Receipts: Your receipts must show your name or the name of the person whose expense you paid for (if you paid for your partner, children or other dependant).
  • Prescriptions: Some medical expenses (for example, lab procedures, certain medical supplies, and medicines) require you to have a prescription from a medical practitioner (such as a doctor, nurse, dentist or optometrist).

Note: Approved medical practitioner’s who are able to write you prescriptions vary by province, for a full list visit the CRA website.

  • Certificate from a medical practitioner: To claim some medical expenses, you might need a certificate from an approved medical practitioner that confirms that you needed to pay for your expense. For example, some expenses that would need a certificate in writing include tutoring services, talking textbooks, note-taking services, etc.


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