Bank of Montreal today called for a national solution to help make opening a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) easier for those who may need assistance from a guardian, during a hearing of the Senate Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee.

“When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced the RDSP in the 2008 budget, Canada showed the world how a smart, innovative policy can help provide financial security and independence for people with disabilities,” said Trevor Philp, manager, registered products and managed solutions, BMO Global Asset Management. “BMO fully supports measures to make this great program even better.”

The Income Tax Act allows for a “qualifying person” to act on an individual’s behalf. But, for this to happen, many of the various provincial laws require that an adult be declared mentally incapable and in need of assistance from a guardian.

“We believe that such a worthy program, which has provided peace of mind to tens of thousands of Canadian families, requires federal co-ordination and provincial co-operation,” stated Philp. “People with disabilities and their families would be best served by a common solution that can be implemented across all provinces.”

Philp suggested that one possible solution could be to allow people with disabilities to make a personal appointment of a “supportive person” for decision-making related to the RDSP. “This type of agreement has been promoted by some of our community partners, such as Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) and the Canadian Association for Community Living,” noted Philp.

In December 2008, BMO became the first Canadian bank to offer RDSPs to the public. Today, BMO is Canada’s RDSP market leader, with more than 30,000 customer accounts, over $535 million in assets under management and approximately 45 per cent share of the market.