The RDSP provides an amazing opportunity for many, many people with disabilities to have more secure financial futures but it doesn’t work well for every individual and some people don’t qualify. Furthermore, other public policies – provincial and federal – deter people from getting ahead. Reforming public policy has the potential to improve the lives of many people and once done, has a lasting impact.
Some of the public policy work that we are involved in:
Treatment of Assets and Income by Provincial Income Programs
Provincial income programs are an important source of income for hundreds of thousands of Canadians with disabilities. These programs have asset and income tests that often deter people from getting ahead and make it more difficult for family members to assist their loved ones.
Legal Capacity Issues
Adults who are deemed not to have legal capacity face barriers to opening RDSPs. A legal representative – an adult guardian or the equivalent in most provinces – must be appointed to act as account holder (Holder). This is a cumbersome, often expensive and usually demeaning process through which the individual must be determined to be incompetent for a guardian to be appointed. This provides a barrier to the RDSP as well as management of other financial affairs.
Children with Special Needs in the care of Child Welfare Authorities
RDSPs may be opened for children in the care of Child Welfare authorities but issues arise when the child reaches adulthood and either the young adult or a legal representative must act as the Holder. Often the young adult is ill prepared to manage an asset and they have few, if any, trustworthy adults in their lives that can provide support, mentor them or act as a legal representative.
Taxes and Work
Many adults with disabilities face barriers to employment. As a result they are dependent on disability income benefits – the result is that they don’t benefit from an opportunity to increase their income, they are deterred from saving by the asset and income limitations on disability benefits and they don’t get the satisfaction of being self reliant. The tax system has the potential to provide incentives to employers and increased rewards to draw people into employment.