P.E.I. Association for Community Living members were in Summerside Friday to impress upon candidates the importance of making these changes to help disabled Islander to achieve full inclusion in community life.

“As P.E.I. is going to the polls we wanted to bring to everyone’s attention three issues that we have been working on for a long time and not just through this election,” said family outreach worker Julie Smith. “We had these prepared for the last election and all of the key points are the same.”

She said systems and policy change is an area where the association works in.

The association is calling for a change the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). “The RDSP is an investment we can make for our loved ones for future planning,” Smith said. “We’re asking that the social assistance policy manual sections be changed. Currently it states that there’s an exemption on the RDSP income up to the point that combine RDSP income and the department benefits that meet the provincial low income rates.”

She said if you have a RDSP income for a loved when they get older and they have departmental benefits, the RDSP will be clawed back.

The association wants the policy changed to fully exempt the RDSP for persons with disabilities.

Mary Whitehead, from the National Association for Persons with Learning Disabilities, said P.E.I. is the only province that hasn’t changed this policy. The only other province in question is Quebec but they are in the process of changing their requirements, she said.

The second area the association wants addressed is the allowable base amount for non-refundable Disability Tax Credit to eligible Canadians.

The Government of Canada allows $7,899 for the non-refundable tax while P.E.I. is $6,890 for the same credit to eligible Islanders – money they can deduct from their taxable income.

“We’re asking the provincial government to amend P.E.I.’s Tax Act to bring the base amount equal to the federal Income Tax Act,” Smith said.

The third area the association wants addressed is supportive decision-making.

“It means a person with an intellectual disability may accept help from a representative, a friend, a family member, a trusted individual, who will help him make decisions without relinquishing their right to make the decisions,” Smith said. “The representative may help the person to understand the information. They may help make decisions based on the person with disabilities own preferences.”

She said on P.E.I. there is only “guardianship” which is substitute decision making through the Department of Trustee and Guardianship. This assumes that some people don’t have the capacity to make legal binding decisions and put in place legal decision makers to make the decisions on that person’s behalf.

“On P.E.I. we have been working for decision making legislation here on P.E.I.,” Smith said. “It’s our position that every person with an intellectual ability has the right to have their decisions legally recognized and to receive the support they require in making those decisions.”

Mike Carson
SUMMERSIDE – Candidates from all four parties are being asked to support three basic changes for disabled Islanders