Cancer only half the battle for Windermere resident

Letter writer shares struggle of getting recognition for cancer treatment

Dear Editor:

In July of 2017 I was diagnosed with Stage 2B(just about a 3) cervical cancer.

I was sent to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary. It was a stressful and expensive experience; anyone who knows someone or has gone through it themselves know the costs of having a critical illness. I diligently filed and separated all my receipts in regards to my illness. I filed my taxes as I have every year and did receive a refund. It wasn’t even close to what I spent but it was something.

In September of 2018, I received a letter from Revenue Canada that they were auditing my medical expenses. I sent in all my receipts. Fast forward to the middle of March 2019: I received another letter with all my receipts. Now they are asking for all my appointment dates; they want to know why I wasn’t treated in my home province. They want a letter from my doctor stating I had cancer and couldn’t be treated at home. Are you kidding me? So I gather up all the information and mail it off to Winnipeg.

April 5th, GST day, my check wasn’t issued. Then the phone calls began. Revenue Canada reassessed my medical expenses before they received the information that they requested. I sent in $7,000 worth of receipts and they gave me credit of $105 and said they wanted the refund I received back by April 3rd. I didn’t receive anything until the afternoon of the 5th. I had to call collections and get a stay of 90 days because they had already charged me over $100 in interest. It took me two hours to finally get connected to someone who could assist me.

I had to resend in all my receipts by fax (28 pages) and call the Tom Baker Centre to release my medical information to Revenue Canada to prove that I indeed had cancer and was justified in being there. They did not notify me that they were halting my GST payments and applying them to a balance I didn’t know I had because I just sent in what they required to do a proper review.

That GST money was earmarked for me to go to Calgary on April 11th for a cancer followup. I had to cancel that appointment as I cannot afford to miss work to go. Everyone I spoke to is really sorry. I have contacted our MP with the hope I can get this expedited in a timely fashion.

To say this adds insult to injury is an understatement. My government is treating me like a thief and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that Revenue Canada has done this to. I was on sickness benefits for 15 weeks at 55 per cent of my wage. The following year I got a letter from them stating they were auditing me and if I didn’t have my original medical form in that they told me to hold on to (thank goodness I did) they would be demanding the money they gave me back. Deplorable. I also have to take steps to protect myself against the government in case things don’t go my way in the way of a hardship application so they stop the interest and forgive what they may say is the amount owing.

I’ve worked hard my whole life, always filed my taxes, never cheated the government. The stress my government has inflicted on me unnecessarily is horrific. I didn’t skin my knee. I did not claim anything I was not entitled to, and I bet my information is sitting on a desk in the Winnipeg Taxation centre unopened and waiting. The last time it took four months.

I am not just a number and I am going to do everything I can and will fight for as long as it takes to right this wrong, not only for myself but for anyone who has had to endure the wrath of our government.

Tammy Gould

Windermere

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