The federal government has proposed two initiatives to help disabled individuals with their finances in the 2015 budget presented on Tuesday.
The first is an extension until 2018 of a temporary measure that is targeted at those who benefit from registered disability savings plans (RDSP). In 2012, the federal government announced that qualifying family members, such as a parent or a spouse, could become the plan holder of an RDSP if the disabled adult person was deemed not to have the capacity to enter into a contract for the plan. This was initially set to expire at the end of 2016.
Although the RDSP is a federal program, the designation of mental capacity must occur at the provincial or territorial level, which can be problematic for the disabled individual, according to the government.
“In some provinces and territories, the only way an RDSP can be opened in such cases is for the individual to be declared legally incompetent and to have someone named as their legal guardian—a potentially lengthy and expensive process that could have significant repercussions for the individual,” the budget document says.
The government gives credit to some provincial and territorial governments for implementing streamlined processes that allow for the appointment of a trusted person when the disabled individual lacks capacity or for providing flexibility to address this issue. These jurisdictions include British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. It also notes Ontario’s work in collaborating with the Law Commission of Ontario to develop a streamlined process for establishing a legal representative for RDSP beneficiaries.
However, the federal government is encouraging “the governments of other jurisdictions to take prompt action to facilitate and simplify the process of establishing RDSPs for adults who might not be able to open a plan due to concerns about their ability to enter into a contract,” according to the budget document.
The extension is being proposed to give all jurisdictions more time to develop solutions that are appropriate to their needs.
The federal government is also proposing a home accessibility tax credit for persons with disabilities who are eligible for the disability tax credit. This would be a non-refundable income tax credit of 15% that would apply on up to $10,000 of eligible home renovation expenses per year.
Examples of eligible expenses include costs related to the purchase and installation of wheelchair ramps, walk-in bathtubs, wheel-in showers and grab bars.
The home accessibility tax credit would also be available to seniors. It would apply to eligible expenditures for goods and work performed and paid for on or after Jan. 1, 2016. It is estimated that this measure will reduce federal revenues by approximately $180 million over the 2015-2016 to 2019-2020 period.