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Home  ->  Filing Your Return -> Eligible Medical Expenses

Eligible Medical Expenses

Income Tax Act s. 118.2(2)

The federal 2022 budget proposes to include as medical expenses those expenses related to a surrogate mother or sperm, ova or embryo donor, for the 2022 and subsequent taxation years.

For purposes of the medical expense tax credit (METC), eligible medical expenses include, but are not limited to

bullet amounts paid to medical practitioners, dentists, nurses, and certain other medical professionals.  Note that for the cost of the service by a medical practitioner to qualify as an allowable medical expense, the person providing the service must be recognized as a "medical practitioner" according to the laws of the jurisdiction in which the service is provided.  For instance, a registered massage therapist (in BC, registered with the College of Massage Therapists of BC) is recognized as a medical practitioner in BC, Ontario, and some other provinces, but not in all provinces.
bullet See Canada Revenue Agency table of Authorized Medical Practitioners for each province/territory
bullet related Tax Court of Canada case:  Laurie v. The Queen, 2003-04-03
bullet amounts paid to public or licensed private hospitals
bullet payments made to organizations for medical services rendered by their employees or partners.  Examples are physiotherapy or homemaker services rendered in the taxpayer's home.
bullet eyeglass frames and lenses and contact lenses prescribed by a medical practitioner
bullet premiums paid to a private health services plan, such as travel medical insurance (must be insurance which will cover only eligible medical expenses - see CRA technical interpretation 2007-0229901E5.pdf), extended health benefits or a dental plan, other than those fees paid by an employer.  Fees paid for a provincial or territorial health care plan (medical or hospitalization) do not qualify, but premiums for Nova Scotia Pharmacare do qualify - see CRA technical interpretation 2006-0205931E5.pdf.  If a person is self employed, the premiums paid for a private health services plan can be deducted from self employment income, instead of being claimed as a medical expense.  This would result in greater (or at least equal) tax savings, and is a way to provide a tax-free benefit to employees of a small business.  See our article on private health services plans.
bullet premiums paid for medical coverage during trips out of the country
bullet premiums paid under a provincial or territorial prescription drug plan, such as
bulletQuebec Prescription Drug Insurance Plan or
bullet Nova Scotia Seniors' Pharmacare program,
bullet but not provincial premiums paid for basic medical/hospital coverage, such as the now-removed BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums.
bulletprogram deductibles and copayments under the Nova Scotia Pharmacare Program - see Nova Scotia Pharmacare frequently asked questions.
bulletTravel and Moving Expenses:
bullet reasonable moving expenses incurred for the purpose of a disabled patient's move to a dwelling that is more accessible by the patient, or in which the patient is more mobile or functional.
bullettransportation service costs, where the taxpayer has to travel at least 40 km to the location where the required medical services are provided, as long as substantially equivalent medical services are not available in the taxpayers locality.
bullet travel at least 80 km one way for medical services:  reasonable travel expenses (meals, lodging, vehicle expenses including parking) may also be claimed.
bullettravel expenses outside of Canada, when a person is required to travel 80 km or more one way from their home to get medical services outside of Canada, which are eligible medical expenses - the expenses include transportation, travel, accommodations, meals and parking.
bullet costs of the following devices (Income Tax Act s. 118.2(2)(i))
bullet artificial limbs
bullet iron lungs
bullet rocking beds for polio victims
bullet wheel chairs
bullet crutches
bullet spinal braces or limb braces
bullet ileostomy or colostomy pads
bullet hernia trusses
bullet artificial eyes
bullet laryngeal speaking aids
bullet hearing aids
bullet artificial kidney machines
bullet phototherapy equipment for treatment of psoriasis or other skin disorders
bullet oxygen concentrator - this includes CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine for sleep apnea
bullet costs of diapers, disposable briefs, catheters, catheter trays, tubing or other products required by the patient by reason of incontinence caused by injury, illness, or affliction
bullet costs of oxygen tent or other equipment for administering oxygen or for insulin, oxygen, liver extract injectible for pernicious anemia or vitamin B12 for pernicious anemia, for use by the patient as prescribed by a medical practitioner
bullet for blind or profoundly deaf patients, or those that have a severe and prolonged impairment that markedly restricts the use of the patient's arms or legs, the costs of an animal specially trained to assist the patient with the impairment, including the costs of food and veterinary care, reasonable travel expenses for the patient to travel to a facility that trains such animals and individuals so impaired, and reasonable board and lodging expenses of the patient while in full-time attendance at such a facility
bullet reasonable expenses incurred in respect of bone marrow or organ transplants, including legal fees and insurance premiums to locate a compatible donor and to arrange for the transplant, and reasonable travel, board and lodging expenses of the donor (and one other person who accompanies the donor) and the patient (and one other person who accompanies the patient)
bullet reasonable expenses relating to renovations or alterations to a dwelling to enable a disabled patient to gain access to, or to be mobile or functional within the dwelling.  Note that a hot tub is not an eligible medical expense, even if it is prescribed by a medical practitioner.  The Income Tax Act [s. 118.2(2)(1.2) and 118.2(2)(1.21)] disallows home alterations or construction costs unless the expenses
  1. are not of a type that would typically be expected to increase the value of the dwelling, and
  2. are of a type that would not normally be incurred by persons who have normal physical development or who do not have a severe and prolonged mobility impairment.

If the renovations also qualify for the Home Accessibility Tax Credit or a Home Renovation Tax Credit, both tax credits (or all three) can be claimed for the same expense.

bullet reasonable incremental costs related to the construction of the patient's principal place of residence, to enable the disabled patient to gain access to, or to be mobile or functional within the dwelling
bullet costs of rehabilitative therapy, including training in lip reading and sign language, incurred to adjust for the patient's hearing or speech loss, as well as sign language interpretation services
bullet reasonable costs for driveway alterations for the principal place of residence of a patient with severe and prolonged mobility impairment, to facilitate the patient's access to a bus.
bullet a portion (20%) of the cost of a van for a wheelchair, up to $5,000 ($8,204 for Ontario METC for 2023, $8,573 for 2024) which has been adapted for the transportation of a patient who requires the use of a wheelchair. See Van on the CRA website.
bullet costs of tutoring services for a person with a learning disability or mental impairment.  A medical practitioner must certify that the services are required
bullet prescription drugs that have been prescribed by a medical practitioner and recorded by a pharmacist
bullet costs of diagnostic procedures and services prescribed by a medical practitioner or dentist
bullet costs of dentures, dental services,  and orthodontia services
bulletexpenses paid for asepsis during an oral examination and the treatment of caries, when they are paid for dental services that were not performed purely for cosmetic purposes.  See technical interpretation 2020-0853361E5 Asepsis fees
bulletcosts of devices or equipment for use by the patient that are prescribed by a medical practitioner, and are of a "prescribed" kind as listed in the Income Tax Act Regulation 5700, Medical Devices and Equipment.  See the  Income Tax Act Regulations  Part LVII S. 5700 Medical Expense Tax Credit.  Some of the prescribed equipment includes wigs, needles and syringes, orthopedic shoes and inserts, hospital beds, breast prostheses, and talking textbooks.
bullet the cost of real-time captioning and similar services used by persons with an impairment.
bullet the incremental cost of purchasing gluten-free food products for individuals with Celiac disease who require a gluten-free diet.  Those with Celiac disease should ensure they retain itemized receipts for all gluten-free products.
bulletoocyte preservation - thawing of eggs and embryos and sperm freezing, when medically indicated, under certain circumstances.  See technical interpretation 2015-0612331I7 on the Video Tax News website.
bulletmedical costs related to the use of reproductive technologies.  Budget 2017 clarified the application of the medical expense tax credit so that individuals who require medical intervention in order to conceive a child are eligible to claim the same expenses that would generally be eligible for individuals on account of medical infertility.  This applies to 2017 and subsequent taxation years, but a taxpayer will be entitled to elect in a year for this measure to apply for any of the immediately preceding ten taxation years in their return of income in respect of that year.

If devices mentioned above have not been purchased directly from a doctor, dentist, nurse or hospital, make sure you have something in writing from your medical practitioner to indicate that the device is medically required.

If you're not sure if your medical expense qualifies, follow the links below to Canada Revenue Agency information.

Cannabis as an Eligible Medical Expense

Income Tax Act s. 118.2(2)(u), Cannabis Regulations s. 264(1)

Previously, the cost of cannabis products could be eligible for the medical expense tax credit (METC) when they were purchased for a patient for medical purposes as per the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

With the legalization of cannabis, as of October 17, 2018, eligible medical expenses include, for a patient who is the holder of an appropriate medical document, the cost of cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis plant seeds or cannabis products purchased for medical purposes from a holder of a licence for sale for medical purposes of cannabis products. The individual purchasing the cannabis product must be registered as a client of the holder of a licence for sale.  This measure was included in Bill C-97 which received Royal Assent in June 2019.  See Licensed cultivators, processors and sellers of cannabis under the Cannabis Act.

Cannabis-related Definitions under the Cannabis Regulations s. 264(1):

Medical document:  means a document provided by a health care practitioner to support the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Licence for sale: means a licence for sale for medical purposes.

See Cannabis Regulations

Cosmetic Procedures

The wording of the Income Tax Act was changed in order to make it clear that medical or dental services or related expenses which are provided for purely cosmetic purposes are not eligible medical expenses for purposes of the medical expense tax credit, unless the services are necessary for medical or reconstructive purposes.  This is effective for expenses incurred after March 4, 2010. Resources

Attendant care expenses - Line 21500 or Line 33099 - includes information on when Ontario limit for attendant care does not apply

Medical expense tax credit - Line 33099

Non-prescription medications are not eligible for the medical expense tax credit

Persons with disabilities - links to related information on 

Extended health benefits or dental plan premiums deducted from your pay qualify as medical expenses.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Resources

Lines 33099 and 33199 (lines 330 and 331 prior to 2019) - Eligible medical expenses you can claim on your return

 - Details of medical expenses

Meal and vehicle rates used to calculate travel expenses for medical travel for each province - 2022 rates will be available in 2023

Income Tax Folios:

S1-F1-C1: Medical Expense Tax Credit

S1-F1-C2: Disability Tax Credit

S1-F1-C3: Disability Supports Deduction

Revised: March 22, 2024


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