Poverty is one of the intractable issues faced by people with disabilities – approximately 2,000,000 Canadians with disabilities have incomes below $19,000 per year. The RDSP has immense potential to change this situation.
Without making contributions, people with disabilities can accumulate assets of approximately $60,000 over 30 years. With personal contributions of as little as $30,000 people’s RDSPs can grow to $400,000 or more. As of July, 2011, however, less than 10% of the estimated 500,000 people who should qualify to open an RDSP had actually opened a plan. A central objective of the Centre is to assist people directly to maximize the utilization of the RDSP and in so doing to assist them to have greater financial security.
Beyond assisting people directly, we also want to influence public policy changes. We want to change laws and policies that deter people from accessing much needed programs and benefits. Public policy changes benefit many, many people. Our public policy work occurs in two arenas: federal and provincial.
We are especially interested in improvements to the RDSP. Federal Finance Minister, James Flaherty, has committed to reviewing the RDSP after three years. The review is slated to begin in 2012. We think that the best changes are rooted in people’s personal experiences and in dialogue about issues and solutions. We’re launching our RDSP Review Blog to stimulate discussion about improvements to the RDSP.