Harper Announces Further Support For People With Disabilities

September 7, 2015

BACKGROUNDER

THE PLAN

A re-elected Harper Government will do more to enhance Registered Disability Savings Plans to help families save and invest for their disabled child’s future.

We will increase the maximum annual Canada Disability Savings Grant for low- and middle-class families from $3,500 to $4,000. This means that these families will now receive a grant of $4 for every $1 dollar contributed on the first $500 they contribute to their Registered Disability Savings Plans each year. The 2:1 matching ratio on the next $1,000 contribution will also remain in place under this new measure[1].

For example, Asha contributes $1,500 every year to her son Omar’s Registered Disability Savings Plan. Under this new measure, the federal government would contribute an additional $4,000 every year through the Canada Disability Savings Grant ($2,000 for the first $500 of her contribution, and another $2,000 for the remaining $1,000 of Asha’s contribution). Asha is comforted to know that years from now, these accumulated savings will provide Omar with the financial security he needs to live safely and independently.

This initiative is expected to cost the federal government approximately $35 million per year, beginning in 2017-18. It will help encourage more families to open RDSPs and take advantage of generous federal support provisions.

A re-elected Harper government will also continue to work with the provinces and Canada’s financial institutions to improve the administration of the RDSP program, and to expand the range of investment options for RDSP holders.

THE ISSUE

Helping Canadian families save for the future has been a key priority for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He knows that it is especially important to families of Canadians with disabilities as they work to help their loved ones with financial security. That’s why in 2008, thanks to the vision of the late Jim Flaherty, the Harper Government established
Registered Disability Savings Plans.[2] These plans allow parents and the families of children with disabilities, and those children themselves as they grow up, to set aside money for the future in an account where it can grow with them, tax-free, until it’s needed.

Canadians have opened more than 100,000 of these accounts since then – and through the Canada Disability Savings Grant and the Canada Disability Savings Bond programs, we’ve added more than $1 billion to their savings.

The Harper Government has an extensive record of supporting Canadians with disabilities:

  • In 2006, the maximum annual Child Disability Benefit was increased and eligibility was broadened to allow middle- and higher-income families to benefit.
  • Since its creation in 2007, the Enabling Accessibility Fund has improved physical accessibility for thousands of Canadians with disabilities by supporting more than 2,200 capital projects.
  • Between 2009 and 2011, the Harper government invested $2 billion to construct, renovate and retrofit social housing to support thousands of vulnerable Canadians, including those with disabilities. For 2011-2019, we have committed a further $1.9 billion through our investment in Affordable Housing.
  • We have removed barriers for people with disabilities to participate in the economy through various measures to promote employment: the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities; the Canadian Employers Disability Forum; the Ready, Willing and Able initiative; the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities; the renewed Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities; and vocational training for people with autism.

THE CHOICE

Prime Minister Stephen Harper supports Registered Disability Savings Plans because they help those who need financial security the most to generate savings. And he believes that people with disabilities and their families know best how to use those savings to secure their futures.

Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair would oppose this measure.

Justin has no plan to assist people with disabilities and help their families save for the future. In fact, he has already vowed to reverse the Harper government’s contribution limits on Tax-Free Savings Accounts, a similar instrument to the Registered Disability Savings Plan. Justin needs those tax revenues from Canadians who are working hard to save for the future in order to support his expensive spending plans now.

Mulcair’s NDP prefer to deliver expensive, one-size-fits-all programs from Ottawa, that benefit only a small percentage of Canadians, rather than support people with disabilities and their families to save and use that saved income to determine their own futures. NDP programs will be so inefficient and ineffective that they will always be subject to budget uncertainties, leaving families with no certainty around how their loved ones will be cared for in the years ahead.

Only Prime Minister Stephen Harper knows that when the future is financially secure for individuals with disabilities, their families are better able to focus on the important things that matter in the present.

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[1] Contributions to a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) are not tax deductible and can be made until the beneficiary turns 59. Federal contributions are made until the beneficiary turns 49. There is a lifetime individual contribution limit of $200,000, a federal grant limit of $70,000, and a federal bond limit of $20,000.
[2] As one disability advocate has written: “Jim Flaherty designed the RDSP with elegant simplicity….In effect, Jim Flaherty is the first Canadian politician to say, ‘I trust people with disabilities to make the right decisions with their money.’ He was right…Jim Flaherty understood because he was the father of a son with a disability. I believe this fuelled his determination to leap over out-of-date mentalities toward people with disabilities….He was making it better up until his last budget.” Al Etmanski, “Thanks to Jim Flaherty, disabled Canadian can fulfill their dreams,” Globe and Mail (April 16, 2014).

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