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If you would like easy to understand information on the new Registered Disability Savings Plan please visit www.rdsp.com.

PLAN recognized Prime Minister Harper with it’s highest honour yesterday – an honourary lifetime membership – in recognition of the implementation of the Registered Disability Savings Plan.  The Prime Minister was joined by Steven Fletcher, Minister of State for Democratic Reform, and Rick Hansen, President and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation at an event to raise awareness of Canada’s new RDSP.  The event was hosted by the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion.

To see video of Prime Ministers speech click on this link: http://vimeo.com/7339976

Excerpt from the official press release:

“While barriers still exist, people like Rick Hansen are a testament to what can be accomplished through courage and determination,” said the Prime Minister.  “Through initiatives like the Registered Disability Savings Plan, our government is helping Canadians with disabilities make even greater contributions to our country.”

Click here for the entire Press Release

Rob Bromley, Chair of PLAN, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Jack Styan, Executive Director of PLAN

Rob Bromley, Chair of PLAN, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Jack Styan, Executive Director of PLAN at the announcement on the RDSP

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaking at the RDSP announcement, with Rick Hansen, CEO, Rick Hansen Foundation and the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State for Democratic Reform

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If you would like easy to understand information on the new Registered Disability Savings Plan please visit www.rdsp.com.

The Registered Disability Savings Plan was designed to be a long-term option for those looking to plan for the future financial security of themselves or their family member.  As such, the plan will be the most beneficial for those who are able to open and save over a number of years.  For many people, they may not have the option of saving over a larger number of years, and will therefore look to use the plan somewhat differently then those (for instance) who are saving for a child and can start early.

A friend of mine was recently explaining how she was having some trouble explaining to the bank that she didn’t want to receive any grant and bond, and instead wanted to simply put in her money so that she could take out payments whenever she wanted.  At 48, she realized that she was only eligible for two years of grant, and wanted to be able to use the RDSP right away, instead of waiting to take out payments at the age of 60.

Now from a purely financial standpoint, her deciding to forgo receiving two years of the grant doesn’t make sense.  In order to maximize the amount of money in the plan, it would make more sense to take advantage of the grant.  I mean, who wouldn’t want free money into their plan?

That would be true if it were all about money….but it’s not.

For some people like my friend, they have been restricted from using money they receive in the manner they want.  Although different for each jurisdiction, in most provinces the regulations tied to those receiving disability benefits mean that the amount of money you can save and spend is restricted, along with restrictions on what you can spend it on.  For someone who has had to justify every purchase they ever make to make sure they don’t lose their disability benefits, having the opportunity to put money away, and then spend it on whatever they want is a very exciting prospect.

So why is there confusion?

1)  Many people are still uncertain as to how you can take out payments, and what are the rules and restrictions (see my post on payments by clicking here) .

2) The launch of the RDSP happened very quickly and many of the financial institutions (along with everyone else) are still trying to wrap their heads around what is allowed and what isn’t.

3) Financial Advisors are trained to make you money, so if you are proposing to use the plan in a way that makes less money it will be important to explain why.

4) Financial institutions are not required to allow every type of payment, only payments determined by the Lifetime Disability Assistance Payment formula.  From what we have seen so far, most have been very flexible around the types of payments they allow and have not restricted payments to the formula.

The KEY: Always make sure to outline your intentions and plan for the RDSP.  Answer the question:  How do I want to use it?  When do I want to take out payments? Do I want to use it as a long term savings plan, or do I want to begin using it now? What type of payments do I want to take out, lump sums or annual payments?

By letting your financial advisor know how you intend to use the plan, you can make sure that there is no confusion, and that it is best suited for you.

If you would like easy to understand information on the new Registered Disability Savings Plan please visit www.rdsp.com.

On October 7th it was announced that Attorney General Mike de Jong  introduced Bill 13 into the BC Legislature.  This Bill proposes amendments to the Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendment Act which was passed in October of 2007.  This bill will enable the proclamation of personal planning legislation, and will introduce important amendments to the Representation Agreement Act, the Power of Attorney Act, and the Health Care Consent and Care Facility Admission Act in British Columbia.

These amendments will make Representation Agreements more accessible to individuals and families across the province, while providing a greater degree of certainty for anyone who has already established a Representation Agreement.  Bill 13 will also allow any amendments to Planning Statutes to be brought into effect separately from the Adult Guardianship Act amendments.

With the launch of the Registered Disability Savings Plan, we have seen a rise in people setting up a Representation Agreements across the province.  As someone with a Representation Agreement in BC is seen to be a “legal representative”, it has allowed many people in BC the opportunity to become a holder for their loved ones RDSP without having to get full legal guardianship.

To view the press release from Ministry of the Attorney General visit: http://www.news.gov.bc.ca/Default.aspx?organization_obj_id=56429306-8c3e-4991-aeb2-1cc86f20bfdd and click on the news release for October 7th, 2009.

The availability of Representation Agreements in BC has brought into focus the absence of comprehensive supported decision-making vehicles in many other Canadian provinces.  We have been working with the Federal Government, financial institutions, and other disability organizations to find a suitable solutions, and will continue to do so.  There has been some significant work done on this issue and we hope to have something brought forth in the near future.  We will provide an update as soon as we know more.

For more information on Representation Agreements you can visit www.plan.ca and check out our online course.

If you would like easy to understand information on the new Registered Disability Savings Plan please visit www.rdsp.com.


Beware of Promises Too Good to be True!

by Patricia Bowles, Director of Communications & Education, British Columbia Securities Commission 

Almost everyone knows this saying.  But we hear over and over again that people lose money when they fall for a scam promising high returns with low or no risk. There is no such thing.   If the investment promises high returns, then it is also promising high risks – meaning you can lose all of your money.

The new 2009 Investor Index tells us that 4% of Canadians have invested money in what turned out to be an investment fraud. One of the more surprising statistics in this year’s survey says that 38% of British Columbians are approached for a fraudulent investment.  That’s 10% higher than the national average.

It also tells us that people can be approached by strangers, either on the phone or at the door, through the internet, by going to a seminar, through advertisements in the paper, on the radio or TV, or through family and friends.

If you are approached for an investment opportunity, do us a favour. Go to InvestRight.org and check out Protect Your Money. Watch and listen to each of the four modules.  It provides investors with checklists and tips to evaluate and research investment opportunities for risks and potential fraud. It tells you how to report a fraud, how to share the information with friends and family. Get a second opinion.  Ask an accountant or banker to look at the opportunity.  Do your research.  Check to see if the advisor is registered or has ever been disciplined by a securities regulator.  Simply Google the person’s name.

When it comes to money, make your decision after you have done your research.  The worst thing you can do is make an impulsive decision on the spot and write a cheque.

You can call us at 1-800-373-6393.

Patricia Bowles, Director of Communications & Education

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