It Takes a Community to Build a Community


Written on June 8, 2012 – 7:10 am | by Audrey Miller

A caring community; neighbours who know your name; friendships; people who are concerned about your welfare; role models; these are supports that we all want for ourselves and our families. However for those of us with a disabled family member, not all of these supports have been readily available.

Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network is a charitable organization built on the belief that ‘through networks they can help families provide for peace of mind: in building a safe and connected life for our family and friends with a disability, they are creating a sense of belonging that has benefits for us all. They work with people with disabilities, their care-givers and families, to secure a good life.’

Since 1989, PLAN has been enabling families to nurture networks of caring relationships around their loved ones, to access the services they need, and to create secure financial futures. Education, ensuring access to resources as well as lobbying efforts are part of their mandate.
A concern for any parent of a child with special needs is that, as hoped, the child will outlive the parent yet as a result they may be left without financial, emotional as well as practical supports. PLAN was instrumental in the development of the Registered Disability Savings Plan, a tool designed to help disabled individuals plan and save financially for their future.
They have worked to improve infastructures- both from a public policy as well as societal perspective.

Their current public policy campaigns include:
1. Promoting the creation of provincial mechanisms that will assist people and families with low incomes (e.g. a matching British Columbia Disability Savings Bond).
2. Finding a solution to RDSP guardianship issue – Adults who don’t have capacity to enter into contracts can have RDSPs without using adult guardianship.
3. Enabling the rollover of Registered Retirement Savings Plans into Registered Disability Savings Plans.
4. Harmonizing the treatment of trusts and Registered Disability Savings Plans within the Federal Guaranteed Income Supplement Program.
5. Reforming the eligibility for the Disability Tax Credit to include people with severe intermittent mental health issues and people with mild developmental disabilities.
6. Finding solution to children turning 19 issue – Children without capacity who have RDSPs and who turn 19 have workable options to maintain their RDSPs beyond adult guardianship.
7. Income and disbursements from trusts in BC are treated the same as the RDSP by BC Disability Benefits
8. Families can contribute funds or goods to their relatives with disabilities without claw backs from BC Disability Benefits
9. Review the implications of capacity issues (Representation Agreements, Powers of Attorney, Adult Guardianship, etc.) arising from the use of the Registered Disability Savings Plan
10. Harmonize the treatment of trusts and structured settlements with that of Registered Disability Savings Plans across the full range of provincial programs used by people with disabilities.
Policies, resources and opportunities that many able-bodied people take for granted are now fortunately starting to be taken for granted thanks to the good work of this organization.
-Audrey Miller

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