"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Our Disability Welfare System Needs Rebuilding"

There's a good article by Andre Picard in Thursday's edition of the Globe and Mail on why all the the provinces need to amend their legislation to ensure that RDSP benefits are not clawed back.

And in words much better than mine:

Under federal legislation, a person with a disability can continue to benefit from other social programs - the Guaranteed Income Supplement, Old Age Security Pension and Canada Pension Plan - even if they withdraw funds from their RDSP.

However boring, the arcana of tax law do matter.

For the federal plan to really achieve its goal of lifting people with disabilities out of poverty, the provinces need to get on board, quickly.

Currently, recipients of social assistance who receive income from other sources (from employment or gifts) have their benefits clawed back. They can also be deemed ineligible for assistance based on their level of assets.

Clearly, it would be a perversity of public policy for provinces and territories to clawback funds set aside for people with disabilities by their families.

It would be equally perverse to say, as a matter of policy, that disabled people are ineligible for social assistance because they have assets in a RDSP.

Yet, to date, only British Columbia, Newfoundland and Yukon have exempted the RDSP as an asset and/or income.

What are the other eight provinces and two territories waiting for exactly?

How dare they consider pilfering money from the pockets of people with disabilities and their families?

. . .

People with severe disabilities who are unable to work - about 500,000 countrywide - receive social assistance payments in the range of $10,000 a year in most provinces.

Attempts to break free of this poverty trap usually result in benefits being clawed back, though there are some innovative programs in British Columbia, Manitoba and Newfoundland that allow people with disabilities to supplement their benefits without being penalized.

The RDSP is an attempt to further change that untenable and counterproductive situation.

Go read it all.

And then go find out what your particular province is doing to support, as opposed to undermine, this first small step in the necessary tear down and rebuild of the welfare system in Canada.

Are they continuing to pilfer money from the pockets of people with disabilities and their families? If so, how are they justifying their actions? And what are we going to do about it?

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