Purpose of the Project
The Government of Ontario has requested that the LCO undertake a review of how adults with mental disabilities might be better enabled to participate in the Registered Disabilities Savings Plan (RDSP). The RDSP is a savings vehicle created by the federal government to assist persons with disabilities with long-term financial security. Under the Income Tax Act, parents can open an RDSP and decide the plan terms for a child. Adult beneficiaries may also do so for themselves. However, where an adult is not legally capable of entering into a contract with a financial institution, another legally authorized person must do so on his or her behalf. The federal government has put in place a process to permit a parent, spouse or common-law partner to be appointed for this purpose, but it is only temporary and does not address related issues of how RDSP funds are managed once they have been paid to the beneficiary.
In Ontario, a guardian or attorney for property can act as a legal representative for an RDSP beneficiary. However, some adults with mental disabilities and their families may face challenges in establishing a legal representative specifically for the RDSP through available processes in the province. The LCO’s project considers the creation of a process specifically for the purpose of establishing a legal representative for RDSP beneficiaries that is an accessible alternative to Ontario’s current framework.
How We are Carrying Out the Project
The LCO Board of Governors approved the project in April 2013. The LCO will draw on work in two prior projects in which we have released final reports, our Framework for the Law as It Affects Older Adults and Framework for the Law as It Affects Persons with Disabilities. The project will also benefit from the work being carried out in the Legal Capacity, Decision-Making and Guardianship project, but is separate from that project and is operating on a different timeline.
We have released a discussion paper, which addresses key issues for the project and presents several options for reform. We have also released a summary of the discussion paper that is intended for adults with mental disabilities and their families and friends, and other people who may not be familiar with the issues. Based on feedback we receive in our consultation phase and the LCO’s ongoing research, we will prepare a Final Report, which is anticipated to be released in spring 2014.
What We Have Done So Far
- The LCO has formed an Advisory Group made up of representatives of provincial and federal governments, legal clinics, the trusts and estates bar, community advocacy organizations, a research centre and financial institutions.
- Beginning in May 2013, the LCO conducted extensive preliminary research and consultations to identify the scope of the project and draft a discussion paper.
- In September 2013, the LCO released a document summarizing the scope of the project.
- In December 2013, we released the Capacity of Adults with Mental Disabilities and the Federal RDSP: Discussion Paper (English) with an Executive Summary (English and French).
- In December 2013, we launched the consultation phase for the project.
- In January 2014, we released a document that summarizes the discussion paper (English and French).
Public consultations are being held from December 2013 into early 2014. For more information on how you can contribute to the LCO’s project during the consultation phase, please see our webpage Share Your Feedback.