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We are continuing to find that many people still haven’t heard about the RDSP, aren’t aware of the benefits (EVEN IF THEY CAN’T CONTRIBUTE!), or don’t know how it works or how to set one up.

With a number of partners in BC, Alberta and Ontario we are putting on even more  seminars, telephone seminars and, in Ontario, webinars.  If you want to check what’s available in your region, check the following links:


– In person:

– Webinars:

BC and Alberta

– In person:

– Telephone seminars:

Feel free to pass this on to friends, forward the links and post to websites and blogs.


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

The 2010 Federal Budget had some really exciting news regarding the RDSP.  For those of you who were able to read through the entire text, you may have come across some very important highlights, including:

  • In recognition that families of children with disabilities may not be able to contribute regularly to their Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), Budget 2010 proposes to allow a 10-year carry forward of Canada Disability Savings Grant (CDSG) and  Canadian Disability Savings Bond (CDSB) entitlements.  In event of delays of opening a RDSP as a result of the complex guardianship processes that are in place in some provinces, the proposed carry forward will preserve a beneficiary’s entitlement to CDSGs and CDSBs so that they are available when a plan is opened.
  • In the Budget, the government is also encouraging all provinces to look at introducing more streamlined alternative processes to formal guardianship arrangements, such as those in place in British Columbia.
  • To provide parents more flexibility in ensuring that their savings may be used to support a disabled child, when they are no longer able to support the child, Budget 2010 proposes to allow a deceased individual’s RRSP or RRIF proceeds to be transferred, on a tax-free basis, to the RDSP of a financially dependent infirm child or grandchild.
  • To enhance accessibility for people with disabilities, Budget 2010 extends the Enabling Accessibility Fund and provides $45 million over the next three years. The Fund will continue its support for small projects which focus on removing barriers and enhancing accessibility. The program will also support a number of mid-sized projects, allowing for communities to undertake larger retrofit projects or foster partnerships for new facilities.

PLAN is very pleased with the proposed initiatives around the RDSP that have been outlined in the Budget.  These will have serious impact on thousands of Canadians with an RDSP or looking to set up an RDSP.

Here is a quick breakdown of the highlights identified above:

RRSP Rollover

The first change is that parents and grandparents will now be able to roll their RRSPs and RRIFs into a RDSP of a loved one with a disability on a tax deferred basis.

The advantage of the rollover is twofold.  Because the RRSPs and RRIFs are collapsed at death, the entire amount becomes taxable income in one year.  This often results in substantial tax payable.  When the funds are passed into an RDSP no tax is payable.  When the funds are withdrawn from the RDSP, they are taxable in the hands of the beneficiary.  In most cases they will be withdrawn over many years, taxed at the beneficiary’s tax rate, and little tax will be paid.

For example, if a grandparent with a $100,000 RIF were to pass away, the $100,000 would become income in the year of their death and, depending on the province, would be taxed at about 40%.  If rolled over into the RDSP of a grandchild, that’s a $40,000 savings!

The rollover is available to people who qualify for RDSPs.  In addition, the beneficiary must be a dependent.  Dependency is determined in one of two ways: either, there is a relationship of dependency – the parents or grandparents provide care or financial support or the beneficiary is financially dependent.  Adults are considered financially dependent if their income is below $17,621 (for 2010).

The amount that can be rolled over is limited to the contribution space remaining in a beneficiary’s RDSP.  Remember that the lifetime limit is $200,000.  This amount will not result in a federal government contribution.

Also, check with your lawyer or accountant about rules for RRSP and RRIF holders who have died since 2008.

Carry Forward of Grants and Bonds

The second change is the ability to carry forward entitlements for the Canada Disability Savings Grant and Bond.  The 2010 budget proposes to pay the Grant on entitlements for the previous 10 years (but not earlier than 2008 when the plan was established), if the person was eligible for the Disability Tax Credit then.

This means people establishing plans now will be able to claim the Grant for 2008 and 2009.  If a family opens a plan for their loved one and contributes $4,500 in 2010, the federal government will contribute as much as 10,500 in Grant and, if the person qualifies, they may be eligible for as much as $3,000 more in Bond.

While up to 10 years of entitlements may be carried forward, no more than 10,500 in Grant will be paid in any given year.

Guardianship and Law Reform

Many families outside of BC, who would like to assist a relative who might not be found to have contractual capacity, have not opened RDSPs because of the obstacles presented by adult guardianship.  If an adult does not act as holder of a plan that is set up when they are an adult, then the holder must be a legal representative.  Outside of BC, the options are adult guardianship or a Power of Attorney.

Many families have not opened plans because they do not want to subject their loved one to the process of being deemed incompetent and having many decision-making powers stripped away.  Others have expressed concern at the cost of the process

People in BC are fortunate to be able to appoint a legal “Representative” with a Representation Agreement even if they might not have contractual capacity.  A Representation Agreement is much like a Power of Attorney, except the person making the Agreement does not need to demonstrate contractual capacity nor does the Representation Agreement need to be drawn up by a lawyer.  In fact, in our experience, most people do not visit lawyers.  If a Representation Agreement is used to manage routine financial matters, then there must be two Representatives or a monitor must be appointed to safeguard the person if they are vulnerable.

The laws governing legal representation are provincial.  While the federal government has considered implementing a short term solution as proposed by PLAN, their preference is that it be done right by making the appropriate provincial and territorial reforms.  The carry forward rules mean that people will not be penalized while provinces consider changes to their adult guardianship and supported decision-making laws.

What is the solution? Provinces will decide, but the experiences of people with disabilities, families, seniors and others who have used British Columbia’s Representation Agreements have been very positive.

As families know all too well, parents do not live forever.  Regardless of who takes on responsibility for safeguarding a loved one into the future, the options for assisting a vulnerable person with their decision-making is either adult guardianship or Representation Agreements.  Representation Agreements provide the option of giving legal status to people’s support networks, whether those people be family or friends.   In developing long term plans for families, we have found them to be essential tools.

The recent ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities provides added incentives for provinces to take another look at the Representation Agreement.

Enabling Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities

The reforms to the RDSP have garnered most of the press but also in Budget 2010, the Government renewed its commitment to helping all Canadians to participate fully in their

communities by providing another $45 million for the Enabling Accessibility Fund.

The importance of accessibility can’t be overstated.  Catherine Frazee likens accessibility to a welcome.  Indeed, as Canadians do we want to leave anyone stranded on our doorsteps, unable to come in and enjoy our hospitality?

This is a commendable commitments.  Most people acknowledge that making Canada accessibility to all citizens will take time.  The commitment to this fund means that the federal government is making Canada accessible building by building, community by community.

To find out more about the Federal Budget 2010 you can visit:

To find out more about PLAN’s continuing public policy campaigns you can visit or click here:

Today, in a ceremony in Vancouver Al Etmanski the Co-Founder and President of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) was named as a first torchbearer for the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay.

“For its first Paralympic Torchbearer, RBC selected Al Etmanski, an author and co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), which was instrumental in advocating for the new Registered Disability Savings Plan and assists families across Canada and globally in addressing the financial and social well-being of relatives with a disability.

Graham MacLachlan, regional president, RBC, British Columbia, said: “Al Etmanski has long demonstrated his commitment to helping people with disabilities and their families succeed through his work as an advocate and social entrepreneur. RBC is proud to select him as our first Paralympic Torchbearer on this historic relay.”

To view the press release in its entirety visit:

To apply to be a Paralympic torchbearer visit:

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

Canadians can now visit all 5 national banks and open up a Registered Disability Savings Plan.  Scotiabank came out today and began offering their version of the RDSP to their clients.  Similar to many of the other banks, Scotiabank will be offering a range of investment options, including Cash/Savings, GIC’s and Mutual Funds.

Scotiabank has joined Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, and TD Canada Trust in supporting this program for people with disabilities.  To find out more about opening an RDSP with Scotiabank you can visit their website at,1608,CID13346_LIDen,00.html or call Scotiabank Wealth Management Contact Centre at1-877-929-4499 and talk to one of their investment specialists.

Now the fourth national bank to begin offering RDSPs to Canadians, TD Canada Trust has announced that the RDSP is now available.  With Scotiabank likely to come on board on November 23rd of this year, this will bring the total to 5 banks offering the RDSP nationally, and one local financial institution in Quebec.  Currently, Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, CIBC, TD Canada Trust, and FMOQ (Quebec) are all offering the plan, with totals nearing close to 20,000 accounts opened and nearly 40 Million distributed through Canada Disability Savings Grants and Canada Disability Savings Bonds.

Banks are now starting to become more streamlined around setting up the RDSP, and receiving Federal Government contributions into the plan.  As many of you probably noticed, it has taken a while for everyone to get up and running for the RDSP program, and we are glad to see that all five national banks will be offering the plan by the end of the year.

In terms of investments, the TD Canada Trust RDSP allows TD Canada Trust GICs and term deposits, as well as the growth potential and flexibility of TD Mutual Funds.  If you would like to view TD Canada Trusts information on the RDSP and visit their website you can go to and browse.

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

Recently a very comprehensive and well-researched article was published on the Registered Disability Savings Plan in the Canadian Tax Journal.  The article was written by Jamie Golombek, Managing Director, Tax & Estate Planning for CIBC Private Well Management, and co-edited by Pearl E. Schusheim and Gena Katz.  Some of you may have come across Mr. Golombek’s column in the National Post called “Tax Expert” which delves into the intricacies of tax planning.

The article published in the Canadian Tax Journal is entitled “Planning with Registered Disability Savings Plans”, and is a thorough look at all the various parts of the RDSP.  Is a great resource for financial planners and for any adventurous individuals who want to know every detail about the plan.

If you want to take a look at the article, you can visit Jamie’s website at or click on one of the following links:

English Version – Planning with Registered Disability Savings Plans

French Version – Stratégies de planification et regime enregistré d’épargne-invalidité

Stratégies de planification et régime
enregistré d’épargne-invalidi

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

London Drugs and PLAN announce winner of June 15 Registered Disability Savings Plan contest –
Port Coquitlam family to receive $1,500 RDSP

$1,500 Contest Winner - RDSP

London Drugs Assistant Store Manager Chris Knowles presents Tisharra, Connor, and Kirstin Diamond with a $1,500 contribution to a RDSP with Chair of PLAN’s Board of Directors Susan Whittaker and PLAN’s Executive Director Jack Styan

Excerpt from London Drugs/PLAN Press Release

RICHMOND, BC, August 6, 2009 – London Drugs and Planned Lifetime Advocacy Networks (PLAN) are pleased to announce Tisharra Diamond of Port Coquitlam as the winner of the June 15th Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) contest. Tisharra will receive a $1,500 contribution towards her son’s RDSP. Launched December 2008 as the first of its kind in the world, this tax-deferred savings vehicle will assist families in planning for the long-term financial security of their relatives with disabilities. It is a savings plan similar to a Registered Educational Savings Plan, however designed specifically for people with disabilities in Canada.

“London Drugs is very proud to partner with PLAN on this first-of-its-kind initiative for families with disabilities,” said John Tse, vice president Pharmacy. “At London Drugs we recognize the importance and value of this savings plan and are pleased to be offering two more contest dates that will give families the opportunities to also win a $1,500 RDSP contribution.”

A RDSP allows anyone already eligible for a disability tax credit to invest savings tax-free until withdrawal, up to a lifetime limit of $200,000, and friends and family members can also contribute to a loved one’s RDSP. The federal government has also created the Canada Disability Savings Grant and the Canada Disability Savings Bond as an incentive to set up and contribute to a RDSP.

“We are excited to be partnering with London Drugs on this RDSP contest and distribution of our Safe and Secure: RDSP Edition books,” said PLAN Executive Director Jack Styan. “The contest amount of $1,500 could translate into a deposit of $4,500 to a family member’s RDSP depending on the income level of the family as outlined by the government matching program. We want to encourage everyone with a family member who has a disability to enter the remaining two contests and to begin donating to a family member’s RDSP.”

British Columbians with a disabled family member can visit any London Drugs Pharmacy to obtain the new, B.C.-specific Safe and Secure: RDSP Edition book. The book offers helpful information related to disability benefits, taxation, trusts, Representation Agreements, wills, estate planning and the new Registered Educational Savings Plan. The PLAN RDSP contest sponsored by London Drugs is open to all residents of British Columbia who are eligible to set up a RDSP (for eligibility requirements see The final two contest draws occur August 15, 2009 and October 15, 2009.  Prizes must be accepted as awarded and are non-transferable with no substitutions permitted.

Visit to sign up for the last two draws.  If you have submitted your name for the first draw, you will automatically be entered for the next two.  Good luck!

Al Etmanski, President and Co-Founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network did an Op-Ed piece for the Vancouver Sun which came out today.  The piece provides a really good overview of the RDSP and also outlines why this is such an important plan for people with disabilities.

Only in Canada: World’s first RDSP puts trust in families  

By Al Etmanski, President and Co-Founder of PLAN

In the midst of the global economic crisis, some of Canada’s most financially vulnerable citizens have just won a lottery of future possibilities.

Except that luck had nothing to do with it. It took a combination of desperation and vision, research and persuasion — not to mention partnership building between a small non-profit, some big financial institutions, and two levels of government.

The result? The world’s first Registered Disability Savings Plan, an innovative policy that’s already attracting international attention, even thought it’s not available until Monday, Dec. 1.

Similar to a Registered Educational Savings Plan, the RDSP is designed specifically for people living with a disability. It allows anyone already eligible for a disability tax credit to invest savings tax-free until withdrawal, up to a lifetime limit of $200,000. Friends and family members can also contribute to the RDSP of a loved one.

Given that Canadians living with a disability are disproportionately poor, receiving, for the most part, less than $10,000 a year in provincial disability support payments, this is already a big step forward. But it gets better. As an incentive for people to set up an RDSP and contribute to the plan, the government has also created the Canada Disability Savings Grant and the Canada Disability Savings Bond.

Through the disability grant, the government will provide up to $3 in matching funds for every $1 invested, to a maximum of $3,500 a year. The disability bond provides $1,000 annually to the plans of the most vulnerable — low-income families unable to contribute anything themselves.

What does that mean to my family and the half a million others across the country who have a son or daughter with a disability? It means the difference, potentially, between mere survival and a genuinely good life.

Most parents do whatever they can to provide the conditions and resources necessary for their children to grow up as healthy as possible, to have access to education and meaningful work, to live in their own homes, to be part of a community that loves and nurtures them.

For parents of children with a disability, the aspirations are the same, but the obstacles are higher. Social isolation, compromised earning capacity, and the challenges of living independently make the stakes even higher. Hoping that our children will outlive us, we also worry about how they’ll manage, and who will look after them, once we’re gone.

These were among the concerns that inspired the establishment of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Networks (PLAN) 20 years ago. A not-for-profit charity created by and for families, PLAN focuses on ensuring a safe and secure future for our relatives with a disability. It was the pursuit of such futures that fuelled our search for a mechanism that would help provide some long term financial security for our relatives. Most of us are realistic. We don’t expect our sons and daughters to live a life of extravagance. Neither do we expect government to provide everything. In fact, PLAN declines government funding and is built on a model that is sustained by families themselves. Our parent members have always lived up to our responsibilities and will continue to do so.

To read the rest of the article visit:

What are the different parties saying around the issue of disability during the current federal election campaign?  Here’s a brief overview:

Liberal Party

“Among the most sacred of Canadian values is this core belief: the true measure of a country is the way it treats its most vulnerable.  Our platform includes:  making the Disability Tax Credit refundable, ensuring that low-income individuals who are disabled are able to directly benefit from this tax credit.  Changing the CPP disability requirements to ensure that those with episodic illnesses – such as Multiple-sclerosis and some mental illnesses – do not jeopardize their ability to collect CPP or QPP disability benefits if they work when they are able to.”

To read more visit:

New Democratic Party

“On December 13 2006, after four years of negotiations, and with the international participation of civil society and NGOs, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the first international covenant on the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. This covenant fills an important gap in international law, by providing universal legally binding standards which create a global framework for inclusion.

Congratulations to the Canadians with disabilities and to Canadian Disabilities groups who have played a leading role in the drafting of this new international covenant on the rights and dignity of people with disabilities! The Convention shall enter into force in March 2007, once twenty countries have ratified it.

Each country which ratifies the Convention accepts its legal obligations under the treaty and must adopt implementing legislation, and report regularly on its progress.  We all know that the government of Canada should be the first government to officially endorse the Convention.”

To read more visit:

The Green Party

“The Green Party of Canada believes that it is time to treat Canadians with disabilities with dignity. We endorse the Basic Income Programme proposed by the Caledon Institute, which asserts, when all factors are taken into account, will actually save the government money. We urge the adoption of this income security programme for people with disabilities as soon as possible as an interim measure to a full poverty eradication federal-provincial program is established to provide for income security for all Canadians.”  

To read more visit:

Conservative Party

“Today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that a re-elected Conservative Government will introduce important financial changes to benefit families that care for family members with disabilities.  We will:

Allow families to split their income between spouses to reduce their taxes in situations where one spouse is not working full-time in order to care for one or more family members with disabilities – whether children or adults.

Improve the Registered Disability Savings Program by making it easier for a person with disabilities to access money that has been transferred from the unused retirement savings of a deceased family member”.

To read more visit:

As a family member, I welcome Prime Minister Harper’s two election announcements today:

1) To allow the proceeds of RRSPs or RRIFs to be rolled over to the RDSP of a son, daughter or grandchild with a disability, 2) To allow income splitting for families where one spouse is not working full-time as a result of caring for a family member with disabilities. 

More details are available at the following link:  Announcement Details

Both of these initiatives will assist families that have relatives with disabilities.  The RRSP rollover provides another option for families in making sure our relatives are financially secure after our deaths.  As a strong advocate for the RDSP, PLAN is pleased with this proposal.  It will make the RDSP more useful for more families because for many of us, our RRSPs are our largest assets, next to our homes.

I know many families where one of the parents does not work because they must care for a relative.  In some families the working parent even has to work at more than one job.  This will make it a lot easier for them to make ends meet. In today’s world it can be difficult for a family to manage on one income.

I trust this is the start of a discussion among all political parties on how to assist Canadian families.  We are the backbone of supports for our children, dependent sons and daughters and, ever-more frequently, our parents.

Susan Whittaker

Chair, PLAN

** “PLAN is a registered charity, and as such is prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity, which is defined by the Canada Revenue Agency as activity “that involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party or candidate for public office.” PLAN has for some time supported the policy changes referred to above, and hope that they are implemented by government, but PLAN does not support or endorse any political party or candidate for public office.”


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