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Federal Budget Provides Interim Solution to Registered Disability Savings Plan Access, Signals Commitment to Labour Market Inclusion of People with Disabilities
For Immediate Release
March 29, 2012
Toronto, ON – The 2012 Federal Budget announced changes to the Registered Disability Savings Plan that will finally make it possible for adults with intellectual disabilities to open an RDSP without being forced to give up their legal capacity. These changes have been called for by the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and others in the disability community.
Laurie Larson, CACL President, stated: “We are very pleased to see that the Government of Canada heard the message of people with disabilities and their families across the country. These changes mean that people will no longer be pushed to undergo guardianship in order to access this plan.”
While CACL was hopeful for a solution that would allow individuals to open a plan in their own name, these temporary measures allow time to make the longer term changes that are necessary at the provincial and territorial level. This action by the Minister of Finance sends a strong message to provincial and territorial governments on the legislative changes that are necessary. CACL is eager to work together with both levels of government to enact these longer term solutions.
The changes to the RDSP go some way toward addressing the poverty faced by Canadians with intellectual and other disabilities by providing incentives and grants to save for future income security. Yet this alone will not close the poverty gap for working age adults with intellectual disabilities who have an overall employment rate of only 30%.
Working-age persons with intellectual disabilities are almost three times more likely than working-age Canadians without disabilities to be living in poverty. The average income for working-age persons with an intellectual disability who are employed is less than half of that of Canadians without a disability.
CACL is concerned that changes announced in the 2012 budget for old age security will exacerbate this trend. Given that almost 50% of people with disabilities rely on social assistance as their sole source of income and people with intellectual disabilities are hugely over represented on welfare rolls, the planned increase in age of eligibility for OAS will mean yet more poverty for seniors with intellectual disabilities. CACL joins others in the disability community urging the Government of Canada to ensure that people with disabilities—already so marginalized by poverty—do not carry a disproportionate burden of the cost for this policy change.
To begin to address the poverty and labour force participation gap for people with disabilities, Budget 2012 makes some promising announcements. An additional $30 million will be invested over three years in the Opportunities Fund to support the labour market inclusion of people with disabilities and to ensure that employers understand the value of hiring people with disabilities. This is a welcome measure. On its own however, it is not sufficient to address the staggering levels of labour market inequality experienced by people with disabilities.
However, measures promised in the budget to appoint a high level panel reporting to both the Minister of Finance and Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development are an important and long awaited step toward development of a robust labour market strategy for people with disabilities.
Michael Bach, CACL Executive Vice-President, says the appointment of this panel is a welcome step toward a targeted labour market strategy for people with disabilities. “We are very encouraged by the time frame for reporting for this panel and view this as a signal of the commitment by both Minister Flaherty and Minister Finley to moving forward quickly on this agenda.”
CACL is optimistic that measures in this budget, while not sufficient on their own, will mark the beginning of a longer term strategy. Budget 2012 sends some positive signals toward an enhanced labour market strategy for people with disabilities.
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For more information contact Michael Bach, CACL Executive Vice President, 416-209-7942; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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