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Several reforms important to people with disabilities became law in mid-December when Bill C-47 (the last of the budget Bills) was passed by the Senate and given Royal Assent.

In his budget, Finance Minister Flaherty announced carry forward provisions for the Canada Disability Savings Grant and Bond as well as provisions for the rollover of RRSPs and RRIFs to the RDSPs of sons, daughters and grandchildren.

1.  Carry Forward Provisions for RDSP Grants and Bonds

Effective 2011, people’s Canada Disability Savings Grant and Bond entitlements can be carried forward.

When a person opens an RDSP, Canada Disability Savings Bond entitlements will automatically be calculated and paid into the plan for the preceding 10 years (but not before 2008, when the RDSP was launched).  This means people opening RDSPs in January, 2011 will can qualify (based on income) for up to $4,000 in Canada Disability Savings Bond – $1,000 for each of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

At the same time, the balances of unused CDSG entitlements will be determined for the same period. If contributions are made to the RDSP, Canada Disability Savings Grants will be paid on unused entitlements, up to an annual maximum of $10,500.  The matching rate on unused entitlements will be the same as if the contribution were made in that year.  In addition, contributions will be used against Grant entitlements at the highest rate first.

That means a contribution of $2,000 into a new RDSP in 2011 will result in a Canada Disability Savings Grant payment of $6,000 ($2,000 x 300%).  Combined with the Canada Disability Savings Bond, the result will be $10,000 from the federal government.

That’s equivalent to turning $2,000 into $12,000!  See table below:

Canada Disability Savings Bond $4,000
Contribution $2,000
Canada Disability Savings Grant $6,000
Total in RDSP $12,000

2.  RRSP/RRIF Rollover to a Registered Disability Savings Plan

The new provisions will permit parents and grandparents to rollover RRSPs and RRIFs, at death, to the RDSPs of financially dependent children and grandchildren, on a tax deferred basis.  A person is generally considered to be financially dependent if their income is below a specific threshold ($17,621 for 2010). A person whose income is above this amount may also be considered to be financially dependent if dependency can be demonstrated.

Normally any assets held in RRSPs and RRIFs become income in the year of the death.  When these assets are passed to the RDSP of a child or grandchild, the tax that would normally be payable is waived.

The amount of the rollover may not exceed the beneficiary’s available RDSP contribution room. That means as much as $200,000 can be rolled into a new RDSP.  If contributions have already been made then the amount will equal $200,000 minus previous contributions (This doesn’t include federal government contributions).

The rollover will count as contributions towards the beneficiary’s lifetime limit but will not be matched by Canada Disability Savings Grants. The rollover will be considered private contributions for the purpose of determining whether private or government contributions are greater. But because the rollover will not have been subject to income tax, it will be considered taxable when withdrawals are made.

The rollover is effective for deaths occurring on or after March 4, 2010. For deaths of an RRSP annuitant after 2007 and before 2011, special transitional rules will apply.


The Honorable James Flaherty, Minister of Finance, has once again taken the initiative to ensure that people  with disabilities are able to access the RDSP.

You are probably aware that the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is one of the key eligibility requirements to open an RDSP.

You might not be aware that most determinations made by Canada Revenue Agency under the Income Tax Act can be appealed to the Tax Court of Canada.  This includes applications for the Disability Tax Credit.

There is, however, currently a law, that prevents people from making an appeal to the Tax Court of Canada unless it affects their tax payable.   This means that if a person has insufficient income to pay taxes, and has nobody to transfer the Disability Tax Credit to, then a determination on their eligibility for the DTC cannot be appealed to the Tax Court (even if it might affect their ability to open an RDSP).

Minister Flaherty today announced his intent to change this legislation:

“Procedural issues of this nature should not be an impediment for individuals who wish to establish their right to the Disability Tax Credit and, as a result, also their right to open an RDSP.

“To promote the fair and equitable treatment of Canadians, I intend to introduce legislative amendments at the earliest opportunity so that individuals can, in every case, appeal a determination concerning their eligibility for the Disability Tax Credit.” – Minister James Flaherty

Press Release

December 23, 2008


Minister Flaherty announces extension for 2008 contributions


At an event to mark the national availability of the RDSP through BMO, Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty today announced that any contributions made by March 2nd, 2009 will be considered 2008 contributions, and will be matched by 2008 Grants.  This is great news for people and their families who have been desperate to get their plans open and contributions made to access the 2008 Grant and Bond.


Federal Government Update


Minister Flaherty was joined by Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada, Tom Flynn, Executive Vice President at BMO and Jack Styan, Executive Director of PLAN.


Federal Government News Release


Listen to the statements made at the December 23rd press conference:

            Honorable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance

            Honorable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

            Jack Styan, Executive Director of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network.

To find out about the RDSP, whether you qualify, and where you can sign up, visit .

Guest post by Al Etmanski, President and Co-Founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN)

And Now there are Two!

Only when difference has its home, when the need for belonging in all its murderous intensity has been assuaged, can our common identity begin to find its voice. –   Michael Ignatieff – The Needs of Strangers

Canadians with disabilities and their families now have two political champions, Jim Flaherty and Michael Ignatieff. On the surface they are unlikely allies but in practice they share a profound understanding that Canada is strengthened when everyone participates, when everyone contributes, when everyone belongs. 

We have been well served by Finance Minister Flaherty’s lived experience of the issues – he has a son with a disability. I have written elsewhere about the profound impact his masterpiece, the RDSP will have on the financial and social well being of people with disabilities and the peace of mind it brings to their families (see article).

I had personal experience of Minister Flaherty’s intuitive grasp of our issues at a recent global conference on Social Role Valorization the current expression of the philosophy of normalization.  As I escorted him into the plenary session he asked what the conference was really about.  I mentioned that normalization thinking had sparked a transformation in how we treat and support people with disabilities.  How it had revealed the devastating effects of segregation and led to the integration, inclusion and acceptance of our sons and daughters.  He nodded in deep recognition and proceeded to speak without notes for 10 minutes, revealing his grasp of how inspiration and new ways of thinking propel and inform change.  He spoke from the heart, expressing gratitude for the audience’s role in creating a coherent framework for a more caring community focused on our common identity.  His written speech, which is pretty good, Minister Flaherty Address.  His actual speech was stirring and touched the audience’s heart. 

Now the Canadian disability community has another champion – Michael Ignatieff, the new leader of the Opposition Liberal Party. I was introduced to Ignatieff through his first book, The Needs of Strangers  (see excerpt).  It remains a clarion call for rethinking how we care for each other.  With passion and insight he sets a framework for our responsibility to the other, particularly the ‘strangers’ who live among us and for setting the conditions of ‘human flourishing’ for everyone.  This wasn’t rhetoric – it was an impassioned exploration of the language of the good with the intention of returning philosophy to its proper place as a guide to being human.

I devoured his Booker nominated novel Scar Tissue about a mother in the final stages of dementia being cared for by her adult son.  It contains eloquent and impassioned reflections on the essence of being human, what constitutes personhood, and about our deep connection with others– even when consciousness, awareness and capability may be in question. 

In 2001 Sam Sullivan, former Mayor of Vancouver introduced me to him.  Sam and I along with others had created a global dialogue on citizenship as seen through the experiences of people with disabilities ( ).  Ignatieff proceeded to use some of our thinking in his Massey lecture series and its companion book, The Rights Revolution (see here).  By then he was teaching at Harvard, so we invited him to a Dialogue on Citizenship and noted human rights activist, Catherine Frazee and an audience of five hundred at Ryerson (view here).  I was impressed by his immersion in the topic, his preparation, his generosity (no speakers fee) and his curiosity.  My lasting image is of him sitting cross-legged on the floor of  a room at the Delta Chelsea after the event, among wheelchairs, guide dogs and an impressive cross section of disability leaders.

Jim Flaherty and Michael Ignatieff are not as different as we might expect. They may not describe it similarly but they both recognize our human fragility and seek to transform both our attitudes and our practices of caring. Perhaps it is through the doorway of disability where their and our political differences, in fact all our differences, will have their home – the place where we acknowledge our boundaries and then surpass them.

by Al Etmanski, President and Co-Founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN)

– December 3, 2007

On March 19th, 2007 Finance Minister James Flaherty made history when Canada became the first country to create a Registered Disability Savings Plan.

The RDSP, which will become available in 2008, will benefit nearly three quarters of a million Canadians with disabilities. Over time, people’s RDSPs will provide billions of dollars to supplement income, enable home ownership, purchase supports, services and products and, ultimately, enhance quality of life.

In addition, the Canada Disability Savings Grant and Bond will provide a federal contribution to assist families in saving for the future.


▪ Registered Disability Savings Plan
– $200,000 lifetime contribution limit
– Contributions permitted by the individual, any family members or friends
– No annual limits on contributions
– Contributions grow on a tax deferred basis.

▪ The Disability Savings Grant will match contributions for 20 years:
– When annual family income is less than $74,357 – three dollars for each dollar contributed on the first $500 and two dollars for each dollar contributed on the next $1,000 contributed
– When annual family income is more than $74,357 – one dollar for each dollar contributed on the first $1,000.

▪ Withdrawals within 10 years of the last Grant or Bond payment may trigger penalties.

▪ For beneficiaries or families that have incomes of $20,833 or less, the Disability Savings Bond will provide $1,000 per year for 20 years without any contribution.

▪ People who qualify for the Disability Tax Credit will be eligible to open a RDSP and receive the Grant and Bond.

▪ Contributions can be made until a person’s 60th birthday year.

▪ Grant and Bond are available until a person’s 50th birthday year.

Actions to Stay Informed and Get Involved!

▪ Make sure you or your relative are qualified for the Disability Tax Credit
▪ Sign up for our public policy ezine, ActionPLAN or a telelearning seminar (details at
▪ Visit our new RDSP Blog at
▪ Register for a free RDSP Tele-learning Workshop
▪ Write Minister Flaherty to thank him for his work on the RDSP.

pdf version of RDSP Fact Sheet

Tags (registered disability savings plan, rdsp, factsheet, action, grant, bond, Flaherty)

Minister Flaherty tabled legislation to create the Registered Disability Savings Plan on November 21st. The text of the “first reading version” of the bill can be accessed from this site: Note that the RDSP is only part of a larger Bill. You can also see the status of the Bill from this site.

The explanitory notes that accompany the bill were also released. They can be accessed from the Finance Canada website: Note that only pages 26 to 48 pertain to the RDSP.

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