NDP MPP Bhutila Karpoche to introduce bill to stop taxes on medical supplies

QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPP Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale—High Park) will table a private member’s bill to exempt certain medical supplies from the Ontario portion of the HST at the cash register.

Jennifer’s Law is named after the Parkdale-High Park resident who inspired Karpoche to bring forward the bill. Jennifer Kwong was shocked to discover that items that she needed while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer — and had to pay out of pocket for — were taxed. That included dressings, which help prevent infections, and wigs, which can cost as much as $2,000 before HST.

“When I heard Jennifer’s story, I knew we had to take action to ease this financial burden on Ontarians suffering from serious illnesses and injuries,” said Karpoche. “The province should be doing everything in its power to help people heal from life-threatening diagnoses like cancer.

“The province should not be piling onto patients’ anxiety and exhaustion and grief and stress by taxing medical supplies that are vital to their recovery.

“Ontarians who experience hair loss as a result of cancer treatment deserve to be afforded the dignity of being able to purchase a quality wig.”

The bill aims to fill in gaps that currently exist. While there is a federal list of HST-exempt medical and assistive devices, it leaves off important items like dressings. And not everyone can wait up to a year to claim a rebate on medical supplies on their federal income taxes.

“Ontarians suffering from serious illnesses and injuries are in enough of a battle without having to worry about the mounting costs of dressings and wigs,” said Karpoche. “The government should be making medical supplies more affordable, not less.”

Karpoche was joined for a press conference Thursday by Kwong and Jaymee Maaghop, director of public policy at the Canada Cancer Survivor Network. The Canada Cancer Survivor Network supports the bill, as does the Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation.

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