PLAN Institute

The Innovation

The Problem

Due to improvements in life expectancy for people living with a disability, many are now outliving their parents and close relatives. While this is a welcome change, it presents a new problem as it pertains to saving for health related costs into the future. Strict benefit guidelines prevent them from building financial assets that will allow for independence in their later life.

The Innovation

The RDSP allows anyone eligible for the Disability Tax Credit to invest up to $200,000 in savings tax-free until withdrawal, and to spend the money in whatever way will benefit them most. Family members and friends can contribute to someone’s RDSP, and help plan for that person’s long-term financial security. The federal government matches contributions through Canada Disability Savings Grants and Bonds. The Bonds – available without contributions – are especially valuable for people with limited financial means.

The RDSP directly addresses poverty. It enables people to accumulate financial assets rather than be dependent on government benefits. It provides them with greater choice and control over their lives. In order to accommodate the RDSP as an asset, most provincial and territorial governments have waived their asset limits allowing people to receive government benefits, and they have eliminated claw-back on RDSP expenditures. Further, there are no restrictions on what the funds can be spent on.

The RDSP helps hundreds of thousands of disproportionately poor Canadians living with a disability to lift themselves out of poverty, overcome isolation, and participate more fully in their communities.
Although Canada’s RDSP—available in every province and territory across the country—is the first of its kind, its implementation is attracting great interest around the world. In the US, two bills have been introduced to assist people with disabilities in similar ways, but these have not yet passed.

Impact By The Numbers


“We learned an important organizational lesson in PLAN’s early years. Our innovative programs would not have much impact unless they were recognized by society’s systems and institutions.  We needed our governments to recognize and adjust their regulations, policies and statutes to accommodate the solutions that we were developing.  Since then we learned that all social innovations require corresponding structural changes in order to be sustainable, long lasting, and to have widespread impact”. - Al Etmanski, Safe and Secure


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