PLAN and 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”.
Since 2000, and with support from the Law Foundation of BC, PLAN has been identifying the barriers that families face, exploring solutions, and making recommendations for changes to public policy. The resulting solutions form a proposal for a new policy framework that will:
• Provide more ways for families to assist relatives with disabilities
• Remove existing impediments to assisting relatives in achieving a good life
• Recognize the extent of family contributions
• Make the most of both government and family resources
After an 8 year campaign, PLAN’s proposal for a Disability Savings Plan is now a fact. On Friday December 14th the RDSP received royal ascent after passing third reading in both the House of Commons and the Senate. The RDSP is a historic initiative in a number of arenas:
The First! – Canada is the first nation to address families’ concern for the future by implementing a Registered Disability Savings Plan. Families and politicians in other countries such as United States, Australia and New Zealand have followed our progress and are working on their own plans.
The Scale – The RDSP will assist as many as 700,000 Canadians with disabilities and the Federal Government has budgeted $115 million in matching Canada Disability Savings Grants and Bonds for 2008-09.
Personal Control – The Federal Government has emphatically declared that they trust families and people with disabilities. There are no restrictions on what the RDSP can be spent on. While the Federal Government is sharing responsibility for planning for the future with the Grant and Bond, people with disabilities and their families will control the use of the funds
Future Financial Security – Like RRSPs, the RDSP will have a significant impact on the future financial security of people with disabilities. Even modest contributions when a child is young will result in significant income flow – as much as $20,000 to $25,000 per year – later in life. Financial security then provides greater opportunity for people to live “good lives”.
Ripple Effects – The future impacts of the RDSP go well beyond the creation of a simple future planning tool. Provincial governments will be forced to change the asset limits for disability benefits and to eliminate claw-backs. Other reforms will also be necessary to accommodate to a new world where people with disabilities have more assets and income.
PLAN is now working with financial institutions and the federal government to ensure the RDSP is offered as a “product” in every financial institution in the country as quickly as possible.
First Canadian non-profit organization to conduct an externally verified social audit.
Successfully overhauled adult guardianship legislation in British Columbia.
Fostered the global Philia Dialogue on caring citizenship.