Plan Institute’s public policy work is about:
• Reforming laws and policies
• Creating tools and mechanisms to create and maintain a good life
• Making it easier for families to secure a good life for their relatives with disabilities
We are focused on two concerns common to almost all Canadian families who have relatives with disabilities:
1. We are presently witnessing the first generation of Canadians with disabilities who are outliving their parents. This has fueled a new phenomenon, worry and concern among families who seek innovative solutions to this emerging and critical social issue.
2. Families observe, on a daily basis, the barriers that isolation and loneliness create around their family members with disabilities. Caring relationships are the essence of a good life. It has been said that: “The only disability is having no relationships”.
With support from the Law Foundation of BC and other funders, Plan Institute has been identifying the barriers that families face, exploring solutions, and making recommendations for changes to public policy.
And we work alongside PLAN families and our partners in government to see a new framework for supporting our family members with a disability adopted. One that focuses on what people with disabilities can do rather than what they cannot do; on assets instead of just needs; and on supporting the inter-dependence of individuals rather than fostering continued dependence.
Families want to see a shift from the welfare thinking that limits financial well being, to one that:
• Provides more ways for families to assist relatives with disabilities
• Removes existing impediments to assisting relatives in achieving a good life
• Recognizes the extent of family contributions
• Makes the most of both government and family resources
• Secures the financial well being of people with disabilities
As we move towards these goals, we recognizes the successful steps we have made. Including:
• The Registered Disability Savings Plan. After an 8 year campaign, the development of the world’s first Disability Savings Plan came into effect in December of 2008. The RDSP allows people with disabilities to save significantly for the future without it affecting their other government income or benefit programs. Plan Institute continues to work with the federal government to educate Canadians about the savings plan and to see it improved. Learn more about it on our website rdsp.com.
• Recognition of family gifts in BC. More recently Plan Institute worked with PLAN families and the BC Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation to see persons with disabilities will be able to receive cash gifts with no effect on their eligibility for assistance, as of Dec. 1, 2015. In addition, the amount of assets that people receiving disability assistance may hold without losing eligibility for assistance rose significantly from $5,000 to $100,000 for an individual receiving disability income and benefits. Double this for couples.
Ultimately Plan Institute wants to see governments make a complete shift from a welfare model to a well being model. Rather than a payer of last resorts, we encourage governments across Canada to consider disability income and benefits as the foundation upon which individuals and families could build upon. That disability benefits become a “floor” rather than a “ceiling”.
Plan Institute is the first Canadian non-profit organization to conduct an externally verified social audit. We successfully overhauled adult guardianship legislation in British Columbia and fostered the global Philia Dialogue on caring citizenship. We are also a member of the Ashoka Global Fellowship of social entrepreneurs. .