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If you are interested in what is happening in the provinces there was a really interesting article in the Globe and Mail today written by Andre Picard. It is all about the RDSP and the need for provinces to exempt the RDSP as an asset and exempt withdrawals. It is really well written and asks the provinces to support the RDSP and move the disability agenda in the right direction. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“The disability community does not have powerful lobbyists and chummy connections in corridors of power. But that is no reason to ignore their needs and exploit their financial vulnerabilities. RDSP plans go on sale in December. There is no excuse for every province and territory to not have committed to amend its rules by that time. Parents of children with disabilities – bipolar disorder, autism, spina bifida and countless other chronic conditions – already have a tremendous burden of care. When their children grow into adulthood – as the vast majority now do thanks to medical advances – the cold reality is that most will be condemned to a life of poverty.”

To read the rest of this article you can click here: http://www.plan.ca/documents/GlobeMail07-31-08.pdf

It still looks like things are moving along and that the RDSP will become available in December of this year.  The Federal Government is on track to be prepared for the launch and are currently dealing with the Financial Institutions that will be offering the RDSP to their clients.  We have heard that somewhere between 12-14 Financial Institutions (from across Canada) are in the midst of drafting agreements for the Federal Government, and once approved, will begin preparing for the launch in December.

We have been getting a lot of questions lately asking which Financial Institutions will be offering the RDSP.  At the moment this information is not public, but should become available in the next few months.  As soon as we know which Financial Institutions will be offering the RDSP we will be posting a list of organizations and detailing their particular plans.

If you and your organization are interested in outreach for the RDSP you may want to keep an eye on HRSDC as they will be sending out a Request for Proposals for different organizations to help inform Canadians about the RDSP.  Financial literacy around the RDSP is going to be an important piece of work as there will be many Canadians with a disability who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit but have never applied for it in the past.

If you know anyone who may be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit make sure to encourage them to apply to the Canadian Revenue Agency.  As well, for anyone looking to set up an RDSP in December, make sure you file a 2007 tax return as your prior years tax return will determine the amount of Grant and Bond you receive.  If you want more information on applying for the Disability Tax Credit you can go to the Canadian Revenue Agency’s website at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/t2201/.

If you are interested in seeing what the RDSP could potentially provide for you or your family member with a disability make sure to check out our new RDSP Calculator, Version 1.0.

PLAN is proud to announce the launch of the new online RDSP Calculator (Version 1.0).

Now available, this calculator helps you project the estimated future value of an RDSP, and will help determine how it can enhance the quality of life for your family member with a disability.

The new RDSP Calculator allows you to enter a variety of scenarios. Answer a few simple questions, and the RDSP Calculator will determine the amount of Grant and Bond you will be eligible for, the approximate growth of the RDSP plan and the value of future payments, and provide a printable summary of contributions.

Families can enter different data into the calculator – and create different scenarios – to help decide the best way to structure a Registered Disability Savings Plan for their son or daughter. The RDSP Calculator is available by clicking here (or the big red button).

Pass on the link to your friends and make sure you return to the site each time you want to use the calculator to ensure you have the most up-to-date version (we will be improving it based on feedback we receive).

If you experience any problems with the calculator please let us know as we will be updating the calculator on a regular basis.

We’d like to thank Simon Evans of Investors Group in White Rock for building the calculator.

Just answer a few simple questions and view the report!

Just answer a few simple questions and view the report!

Yukon is the first Territory in Canada to exempt the RDSP . They recently published a new version of the Yukon Social Assistance Regulations. In these regulations they have exempted the RDSP as an asset and indicated that it will not be included in the calculation of liquid assets for someone receiving social assistance.

Notwithstanding subsection (1), the following shall not be included in the calculation of liquid assets: (c) accumulated savings in a person’s Registered Disability Savings Plan;”

To read the regulations visit: http://www.hss.gov.yk.ca/downloads/252_Social%20Assistance%20Regulation%20Final%2008.pdf

The Department of Health and Social Services has also indicated that they will not count the income from the RDSP when they determine benefit levels for someone on social assistance.

“Federal Registered Disability Savings Plan and the Working Income Tax Benefit For persons on social assistance who receive the above Savings Plan or Tax Benefit, it will not be counted as income for the purpose of determining benefit levels.”

To visit website go to: http://www.hss.gov.yk.ca/programs/social_services/assistance/changes_to_social_assistance/

This is a very encouraging development as Yukon has now joined British Columbia and Newfoundland in exempting the RDSP. These provinces and territory have made it clear that they understand that people with disabilities face barriers that others don’t, and that they are willing to assist people and their families achieve financial security. As the launch of the RDSP in December draws near we are optimistic that the other provinces and territories will decide to exempt the RDSP as well.

Congratulations to the Government of Yukon on taking this monumental step towards improving the lives of people with disabilities in Canada!

“If you speak the truth you are unstoppable. If you step out you will galvanize a country. Regardless of your name, gender, skin color or topic, if you step up you put a powerful face to a universal expression – to a slumbering giant – to the millions of Canadians struggling with their family care-giving responsibilities.” – Al Etmanski, President and Founder of PLAN.

This is an excerpt from a speech given by Al Etmanski, President and Founder of PLAN, to the Canadian Caregivers Coalition in Ottawa on June 19, 2008. I thought it was important to post this speech because it is a really amazing oration that provides an interesting background into the importance of the Registered Disability Savings Plan and the paradigm shift that it is creating within the traditional welfare systems in most of the provinces.

Along with this interesting look into the background of the RDSP, it discusses the role of change-makers and the importance of “audacity” in enacting lasting and positive change and the need for “intentional, strategic and and consciously bold” actions by Canadian innovators. If you have a moment I would really encourage you to take a look at the whole speech.

For the speech in its entirety visit the PLAN Institute website at http://www.planinstitute.ca/userfiles/Audacity.pdf

Many people have been asking us who they should contact in their provinces if they have more questions on the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). If you are unsure of your provincial government’s plans for the Registered Disability Savings Plan, we encourage you to contact your provincial government representative or your Minister responsible for disability income assistance.

You can download the following list of provincial government ministers with links to their contact information: Provincial Ministers responsible for Disability Income Assistance – Contact List

This list was compiled in July of 2008.

MPP Sylvia Jones pushes for provincial welfare changes to accommodate the RDSP in Ontario for people with disabilities. See below for article as found in the Orangeville Citizen:

Jones Bill Would Preserve Disability Benefits

Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones says a bill she has introduced in the Ontario legislature will prevent the provincial Liberals from “clawingback” investments made into a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

Plans for the RDSP were announced by the federal government in its 2007 budget and the plan is slated to come into effect later this year. Its intent is to help parents and others save for the long-term financial security of a disabled child.

The federal plan allows funds to be invested taxfree until withdrawal and contributions are eligible for the new Canada Disability Savings Grant.

There is also a new Canada Disability Savings Bond for individuals with lower family net incomes.

Ms. Jones, the Progressive Conservative community and social services critic, says that as the law stands in Ontario, the RDSP would be considered an additional asset to be taken into consideration when calculating social assistance benefits. Thus, it could mean a reduced amount paid in the benefit.

To see the article in its entirety you can visit: http://www.citizen.on.ca/news/2008/0619/regional_news/017.html

To view the Press Release visit: http://www.ontla.on.ca/library/repository/monoth/11000/283589.pdf

To view the status of the Bill visit: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=2038&detailPage=bills_detail_status

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