While more than 22,000 British Columbians with disabilities are accessing the benefits of having a federal Registered Disability Saving Plan (RDSP), there are still almost 45,000 people with disabilities who may be eligible for the federal grants and bonds available to them through an RDSP, but are not signed up.

That’s why the Province of British Columbia continues to raise awareness about the benefits of the RDSP for people with disabilities by proclaiming October as the fourth annual RDSP Awareness Month and celebrating innovative initiatives like Access RDSP.

“RDSPs provide an outstanding financial opportunity for people with disabilities,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “While we have a high uptake in RDSPs, we know that many people are missing out on this opportunity here in British Columbia. RDSPs can help people with disabilities secure their financial future and we want to create greater awareness of this program that supports the long-term security of British Columbians with disabilities, and their families.”

The RDSP Action Group, an advisory committee that includes community leaders who are champions of the RDSP, continues to drive awareness and uptake of the RDSP program. In 2016, some members of the RDSP Action Group – Plan Institute, Disability Alliance BC and the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society – with the support of the Vancouver Foundation – launched an innovative four-year project partnership called Access RDSP to provide direct assistance to British Columbians with all the aspects of opening an RDSP.

“Access RDSP is a unique partnership that is making real change for people with disabilities in B.C.,” said Norah Flaherty, chair of the RDSP Action Group. “In just over a year, Access RDSP has helped thousands of eligible individuals open RDSPs and get on the path to a more financially secure future.”

Access RDSP offers individuals and families one-on-one help with RDSPs and the Disability Tax Credit, free RDSP information sessions, a disability planning hotline, Indigenous navigation supports, and distributes the Endowment 150 grant to jump-start RDSP savings. Since launching Access RDSP, the partners have reached over 7,300 people, directly connecting them with the supports and resources they need to open an RDSP. Further, 85% of people supported through Access RDSP have either successfully opened an RDSP or are actively engaged in the process.

RDSPs are available to eligible people with disabilities up to the age of 49. Once an individual opens an RDSP, they become eligible for Government of Canada bonds and grants throughout their lifetime. Low-income individuals may get up to $1,000 per year without making a contribution to a maximum of $20,000 in bonds, and matching grants of up to three times the amount they contribute. An individual could be eligible for up to $90,000 in grants and bonds over their lifetime.

The Government of British Columbia is committed to helping make life easier and more affordable for all British Columbians. Raising awareness about the federal government’s RDSP program is key to making sure people with disabilities access all of the supports available to them, provincially and federally.