The Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology recently released a report, Breaking Down Barriers, based on their study of the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) and the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). Both programs are strongly supported by PLAN families.
The Committee undertook the study after hearing of a sudden spike in the number of DTC applications that had been rejected. Al Etmanski, PLAN’s co-founder, was one of the people who presented recommendations to the Committee on how to make these programs simpler, fairer and more accessible. Al was also part of the team who created the RDSP a decade ago.
In their report, the Committee makes 16 recommendations aimed at improving both programs. They are divided into short-term objective to make the process for the two programs simpler and clearer, and a long-term philosophical shift in the way Canada deals with people who are in financial distress but cannot advocate for themselves.
The Committee’s recommendations include:
- reviewing the appeals process to make it more “straightforward, transparent and informed”;
- coordination by CRA and Finance to ensure that people can keep all RDSP contributions for the periods during which they qualified for the DTC;
- broadening the eligibility criteria for the RDSP beyond the DTC “such that people with severe disabilities who are eligible for provincial and territorial disability support programs are able to participate”;
- reducing to five years from 10 years the period before which an RDSP beneficiary can make withdrawals from the plan after the end of the federal grant;
- moving responsibility to assess DTC and RDSP eligibility to Employment and Social Development Canada; and
- introducing legislation to make the DTC a refundable tax credit.
If implemented, we believe they will make a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities, and their families, in Canada. We invite you to read the full report here.