Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Top 15 Accomplishments by PPSN

We hope a list like this can inspire you to record, remember, and reflect on your own personal lists, as well as help us share the good word about supporting people with disabilities.
If you want something you never had, you have to do something you've never done

When we help people with disabilities, we are helping everybody.

1. Our Party for People with Special Needs (PPSN) founders were engaged with the government in the dialogue that eventually resulted in the creation of Canada's Registered Disability Savings Program (RDSP), and were acknowledged in the government report that led to its creation in 2008.

2. PPSN founders were cited as the #1 organization consulted on the Report of the Minister of Finance’s Expert Panel on Financial Security for Children with Severe Disabilities, 2006.

3. PPSN founders submitted two reports to the Low Murchisson Commission formed for the development of the Registered Disability Savings Plan.

4. PPSN founders are advocating for People with Disabilities to the Finance Minister, the Hon. Jim Flaherty. PPSN founders formed Citizens to Restore Tax Credits for People with Disabilities to ask the government to restore the Disability tax credits for the years 1985 to 1996. On December 31st 2004 back-filing privileges for these years was removed from People with Disabilities with very little advance warning. An estimated $3 billion was lost to families with this action that was never clearly identified to taxpayers.

5. PPSN founders were instrumental in getting Segregated Funds recognized as a Life Insurance Policy. This permits People with Disabilities to save without losing their ODSP benefits. A brief was submitted to the Director of ODSP for Ontario. Minister of Community and Social Services was John Baird, who supported this initiative. This is now recognized in regulations Directive 4.8 and is now on the Ministry web site under internal staff directives, ODSP handbook.

6. PPSN founders made the key steps in getting ODSP offices to not deduct Life Insurance dividends from ODSP cheques. This was supported by Frank Klees, MPP, & John Baird, MCSS.

7. PPSN founders made submissions to the federal government’s Technical Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities.

8. PPSN founders intervened with the City of Toronto RFP on computer purchasing. PPSN founders advocated for standard software facilities to be available on all the City’s computers so that People with Disabilities could do their job no matter what workstation their job placed them at.

9. PPSN founders advocated that the jobs for the new 311 government information service be telework jobs, accessible for People with Disabilities. Presentations were made to the Newmarket Town Council and the City of Toronto 311 public hearings. “311 These jobs are our jobs”, jobs for People with Disabilities.

10. PPSN founders has been instrumental in developing alternatives to Henson Trusts for protecting the long-term financial security of People with Disabilities. Segmented Funds are cheaper, easier to set up, do not require a trustee, and require no annual tax filings or financial reporting.

11. PPSN founders supports York Region alliance to end homelessness and has made deputations to the “Streets to Homes” program in Toronto.

12. PPSN founders conducts free educational seminars on financial planning for People with Disabilities.

13. PPSN founders have raised objections to Shelter Allowance request delays at ODSP offices. MPP Frank Klees read a letter from PPSN founders into the parliamentary record. People with disabilities deserve better service to prevent delays in processing. The Minister agreed to investigate delays.

14. PPSN founders have been recognized as advocates for People with Disabilities by the National Post, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Abilities Magazine, Exceptional Families Magazine, Investors Guidebook, TD Canada Trust, & Mutual Fund Magazine.

15. PPSN has helped families with disabilities raise over $2.4 million by successfully lobbying to get Disability Tax Credit to cover previous seven years, and then informing and educating people of new legislation through networking and social media.

When we help people with disabilities, we are helping everybody.

Friday, October 3, 2014

9 Thoughts to Help People With Disabilities & Help Everybody

Everyday we have a choice...Hey there everyone!!

It’s fascinating the various ways in which persons with disabilities are regarded and treated in our society/culture. Throughout my life, I have dealt with several disabilities, friends and families with disabilities, and have noticed how thousands of people respond to those disabilities.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Update on PPSN Ideas

PPSN-Party For People With Special Needs

* Food Bank made simple:no infrastructure, no overhead, no payroll
* Accessing our government's investment in people-Disability Tax credit
* Uncovering people's hidden talents: jobs for people with challenges
* Fashion for oversize women
* Generating innovative public policies on line
* Improving infrastructure for flexible living:mobile homes for a mobile workforce
* Adapting workforce to a changing economy: facilitating change when the economy changes

* international outreach - Autistic children in other countries
* "Sleeping with an elephant."
............* Canada's experience in being a neighbour with the United States
............* Ukraine's uneasy experience with its neighbour
............* Canada & Ukraine have much in common and can learn from each other
* how to coexist with a major world power
* border issues
* Canada's experience dealing with a language minority
* film festivals & art exibitions
* PPSN/MD message board promotion
............* messaging
............* art
............* accessing entitlements - OW, DTC
* PPSN intern program
............* Universities
............* Community Colleges
* Rock Bottom Student Accomodation
............* free donated unused industrial facilities
............* private tents on premises
............* proceeds to PPSN
............* in-kind donation of facilities is receipted according to EO
* sustainable transportation - the bicycle

Outreach co-ordinator: Lada Alekseychuk (cel:416-797-1748, email:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ontario By-Election Candidates

We are proud to be running in the following Ontario By-Election ridings:

Danish Ahmed, Leader of the Party

Considered two of the most impressive candidates.

Quoted: "When we help people with disabilities, we are actually helping everybody."

Ottawa South
John Redins

Ottawa Citizen

Dan King

“It can come suddenly. One day you have a successful life, another day tragedy strikes.”

Please share, so that others who want to, may have the democratic freedom to vote for us.

Read this special article from our Party Leader:
Why Do We Run When We Know We Won't Get Elected?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Our Interview on Family Caregivers Unite!

Judith Snow and Danish Ahmed had the opportunity to give a full one-hour interview on VoiceAmerica.

VoiceAmerica reports that, by January 31, 2012, Family Caregivers Unite reached an audience of over 375,000 listeners, and is growing.

Listen to our exciting vision for the Party for People with Special Needs at this link.

Danish Ahmed, born a blind Pakistani albino to immigrant parents on welfare, has beaten all the odds. Judith Snow, MA, who has a background of being labeled disabled, is Founding Director of Laser Eagles Art Guild, an organization making creative activity available through personal assistance to artists with diverse ability. They share their personal stories, and highlight their career successes. They explain the Political Party for People with Special Needs, their work with it, its political objectives, and the political advances it’s seeking. They describe the Party’s methods, messages and resources, its plans for the next election, its methods for getting publicity, and the particular population of voters it’s targeting. They explain the benefits to all of society of the advances the Party is seeking to achieve, and share their messages for the community of persons with special needs.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Status Update 2012

A disability can happen to anyone, at any time in their lives.  More than 15% of Canadians have a disability – including disabilities we cannot see.  We have a social services system that tries to do its best but many of the people who need services cannot get access to them.

Here’s the good news: When we help people with disabilities, we are helping everybody.

Welcome.  My name is Danish Ahmed, and I am the Leader of the Party for People With Special Needs.  Over the last five years we have worked hard to make a difference for families affected by family members with disabilities.  We ran in the last two provincial elections, raising awareness by highlighting relevant issues and pointing to solutions that empower everyone in our society.

For example, many people with disabilities are unable to complete their tax returns and get their government benefits, like the HST refund.  We have been providing FREE tax return services to ensure that everyone receives all the disability benefits and tax credits they are entitled to.  We can do your income tax too, free of charge!

By showing people how they can revise their taxes we have helped families like yours receive over $2.4 million dollars in refunds they would otherwise not have received.  Canada's Registered Disability Savings Program is a good news story.  This very generous federal program was a result of 5 years of lobbying government by our party members.

Unfortunately, this program is set up in a way that prevents many people with disabilities from being accepted into the program.  There is too much bureaucracy and too much paperwork just to make a simple RDSP deposit.  We have worked with major banks to help them breakthrough barriers so more Canadians can access the benefits of the RDSP.

We have raised accessibility standards in the government, supported the tenants of social housing, and continue to provide invaluable feedback for issues around transportation, health-care and education.

We have and continue to run our candidates in the provincial elections.  By doing so we create pressure on the major parties to listen to issues that are important to people with disabilities and seniors.  By raising issues, our ideas get heard, and sometimes implemented by other parties.

We are committed to making a difference for all families affected by family members with disabilities.  Our solutions benefit all of society.  We are removing barriers and empowering all Canadians to create the best opportunities they can for their lives.

We are the Party for People with Special Needs.  When we help people with disabilities, we are helping everybody.  Support our party.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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Monday, June 11, 2012

$20,000 to $90,000 available FREE!

Government supervised and regulated.
You deal with the major banks.

* must have or know someone with a disability and be resident in Ontario, Canada.
* must be under 49 years old to participate
* must be under 29 years old to get entire $90,000
* $20,000 Free even if no money is contributed at all to your program
* all contributed funds are guaranteed refundable by the major banks

Contact Dan King, 1-877-382-1986

Already we have helped families with disabilities receive over $2.4 Million!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


More independence for people with a developmental disability

Federal legislation on the proceeds of crime and money laundering has rendered 1.5 million Ontarians 16 years and older without a valid driver’s license, passport or other photo ID, incapable of  purchasing an insurance policy, opening a bank account, accessing government services, applying for work or opening a Registered Disability Savings Plan. However there is good news; the Ontario government has joined eight other provinces that offer a government issued Photo ID card that solves the ID dilemma. The card was designed with input from Ontarians with disabilities, seniors and advocacy groups. The card includes the cardholders name, photo, signature, address, gender and date of birth. The photo ID card mirrors the same features as a driver’s license to help prevent fraud and identity theft.

Similar to a driver’s license, the purple card has a clipped top-right hand corner that will help differentiate it from other cards in the holder’s wallet as well it has raised lettering on the card number. The Photo ID card will benefit people with a disability who want to access government and financial services that require proof of identity, such as cashing cheques, purchasing insurance, opening a new bank account, obtaining a credit card, boarding a domestic flight, returning merchandise to a store, obtaining hotel accommodations, renting a home, renting a video and signing a rental lease agreement. The Ontario government is working in conjunction with Elections Canada to ensure the card is accepted as proof of identity when voting.

David Carter-Whitney assistant deputy minister at the Ministry of community and social services says that “not having official identification can be a barrier to full participation in the community. Imagine getting a job, but finding out that you can’t complete the police check because you don’t have a driver’s license or passport” The new photo card will help people with disabilities to achieve greater independence and open doors to new opportunities.

The new government issued photo ID card can be obtained through any of the twenty-one Service Ontario centres across Ontario. It costs $35.00 and remains valid for five years. To find out where you can get a card:

•    Call toll-free 1 800 387-7095
•    Dial TTY toll-free at 1 800 268-7095
•    Or go to the Ministry of Transportation’s web site and search for “photo card” 

In addition “Development Services Ontario” is your access point for adult developmental services. Check out their web site for information and locations at . Watch their video and let Charlie show you how Developmental Services Ontario makes it easier for adults with a developmental disability and their families to apply for support.

Click here to find an Ontario Service Centre near you to obtain your Ontario I.D. card.

John.Dowson, Ch lp, is the Executive Director of LifeTRUST Planning, a national company that serves exceptional families across the country. 1 800 638-7256

Information “Spotlight on Transformation” bulletin: Development Services Ontario

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Prepared By:

LifeTRUST Planning © 60 Harrison Drive Newmarket, Ontario L3Y 4P4 Tel:905-836-5460 Fax:905-836-5458 Toll Free 1(800) 638-7256 Email Web Site


Do I have to disinherit my child in order to keep his/her share from going to the government?

Absolutely not! There are currently acceptable estate planning procedures whereby your child can participate in the benefits of your estate. Familiarize yourself with these procedures before making a decision to disinherit your child.

How can I be reasonably certain that the share which I leave to my child will be appropriately expended, will be available throughout my child's lifetime, and will not make my child ineligible to receive government financial support programs?

In order to answer these questions, you must be familiar with the concept of a trust which is an estate planning tool by which one person has the authority to manage and invest the funds of another. There are only three parties to a Trust arrangement: (1) the Settlor; (2) the Trustee; and (3) the Beneficiary. The Settlor is the person with the assets who by agreement sets up the Trust. The Trustee is the person who receives the funds from the Settlor, invests them, and has the obligation of seeing to it that the terms of the Trust are carried out. The Beneficiary is the third party for whom the entire Trust Arrangement is created and for whom the benefits are intended. If the Trust is created or takes effect during your lifetime, it is referred to as a "Living Trust". It is most often created by a written agreement between the Settlor and the Trustee whereby the Trustee agrees to accept the terms of the Trust arrangement and administer it accordingly.

A trust arrangement may also be created in your Will in which case it is referred to as a Testamentary Trust. In this situation, the Trust is not created nor does it begin to operate until your death.

The term of the Trust (i.e., the instructions that you give to the Trustee for future operation of the Trust) may be as numerous and varied as your imagination permits in order to specifically tailor the Trust arrangement to achieve your intent. The freedom in designing your Trust arrangement is subject only to meeting certain guidelines or laws existing in the Province where the Trust is created and administered.

A typical Trust arrangement in its briefest form might be summarized as follows:

I give the sum of $25,000.00 (or 1/4 of my estate or 25% of my estate) to the no name Trust company, as Trustee, for the benefit of my son, John Smith, to be administered as follows: You may spend the principal, and/or income of the Trust for vacations and recreational activities for John Smith during his lifetime as you may deem advisable. You may not spend the assets of this Trust for his basic care and support which is being provided through government assistance programs. When my son dies, if there are any Trust assets left, give them to his brothers and sisters.

This Trust arrangement should meet most of your concerns. Since the no name Trust Company is obligated to abide by your wishes as set forth in your Trust, you can be reasonably assured that it will spend the money for vacations and recreational activities for your child and will refrain from spending the assets for his basic support and maintenance. The Trustee has no ulterior motives except to administer the Trust the way you have directed. As long as the money holds out, you can be assured that your child will be provided with vacation and recreational activities long after you death. In order to appreciate the final advantage of the Trust arrangement, you should be aware that the Trust may be structured in such a fashion so that the principal and income of the Trust estate is not considered to be the property of the beneficiary. After all, she/he is only entitled to receive what the Trustee decides to give her/him within the framework of the instructions you have given the Trustee. Furthermore, your child has only a lifetime interest in this trust and his brothers and sisters may expect to receive whatever is left in the Trust estate upon the death of the primary beneficiary. For these reasons, the government, or other creditors of your child, should no be able to reach the Trust assets to satisfy their claims. Since the law recognizes that the Trust assets, until distributed, are not the property of your child, those assets should not be taken into consideration in determining whether your child is eligible to receive government financial support such as Ontario Disability Support Program.

Can I achieve the same result by giving my child's share to my other children with instruction to use the money for the benefit of their sibling (morally obligated gift)? (Secret Trust)

This approach is full of dangers and traps which have absolutely nothing to do with the trustworthiness of your other children. With no formal Trust arrangement, your child's share might very well be commingled or mixed with the assets of your other children. Should the child holding the assets be involved in a divorce, your child with special needs' share might very well end up in the hands of your former son-in-law or daughter-in-law. An unexpected death could result in your child's share being included and distributed as part of someone else's estate, totally defeating your intentions. This arrangement may violate regulations under the Succession law Reform Act.

Who should I name as trustee? A Trust Company or a family member?

The Trustee may be a Trust company or an individual 18 years of age or older. The Trust company offers an element of stability and expertise in managing other people's assets. However, a Trust company trustee often lacks a personal relationship with your child and may be totally unaware of your child's particular needs. An individual family member has the benefit of the personal relationship and knowledge of your child's needs. On the other hand, if that family member does not live in the same area as your child, his/her value would be greatly diminished.

One solution would be to direct your Trust company trustee to confer with other family members regarding the needs of your child. Several alternatives are available, and you should thoroughly discuss the selection of the Trustee with your lawyer at the time the trust is created.

Are there lawyers available with special knowledge regarding estate planning for parents of children with special needs.

Yes, but you must be certain that the lawyer you select is aware of the unique aspects of planning for people with disabilities. You should be aware that the estate plans for people with special needs are unique and that most competent lawyers who are involved is estate planning should immediately recognize the situation. What they may lack is knowledge regarding the specific needs of your child. However, you can supply this information at the time of your estate planning conference.









Copyright © LifeTRUST Planning All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this booklet or parts thereof in any way or form.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Why the RDSP is failing?

Tax Policy Branch: Department of Finance

L’Esplanade Laurier 16th Floor, East Tower
140 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5
Facsimile: 613-943-5597

1. Sales and marketing 2. The identity of the holder

1. Sales In conversations with financial advisors and mutual fund agents they have stated that the commission for selling an RDSP are so small it’s not worth their efforts to prospect for 5% of the Canadian population that have a child with a disability and then target 3% of that group for parents who have a child under age 18 with enough disposable income to invest in the plan. Mutual fund commissions on new deposits are 4%, out of which 2% is paid to the agent and 2% goes to the dealer. Commissions are only payable on the initial RDSP deposit and not on the grants or bonds. To prospect for 5% of the population and then target 3% of that group for a $1,500 deposit to earn $30.00 and a .05% annual trailer fee of $2.09 a month on the total assets of $5,000 has little incentive for the agent.

In addition a mutual agent is required to submit $15,000, $20,000 or more of investment deposits per month or their contract with their dealer will be terminated. Add to this their monthly expenses for gasoline, mortgage, food, utilities and other items and their financial needs prohibit them from leaving their current lucrative sales efforts to prospect for 3% of the population who have $20,000 of disposable assets to invest in an RDSP. Furthermore there is the requirement of annual reviews and the concern that many of these families will not continue to deposit $1,500 a year or $125 a month for 20 years. Already Financial institutions complain that they spend thousands of dollars administering hundreds of thousands of RESP’s that families started and never continued.

1.1 Marketing Since 1989 I have dedicated my financial planning practice to planning for families or people with a disability. I can attest that leaving the family market to concentrate on families who have a child with a disability takes a lot of effort and time. From 1989 to 2001 758 families purchased a LifeTRUST Life insurance policy I designed to provide their child with a lifetime income they cannot outlive. I have conducted over 400 seminars to families on life planning for people with a disability. I am the registered ISBN author of “lifetime Security Planning Kit” and “Just Imagine” a board member of my local Community Living association, and a fee for service life planner who is recognized as being instrumental in helping to shape provincial and federal policy that makes life planning possible, helping hundreds of Ontario families have peace of mind that would not have been possible without my efforts.

Merrill Lynch, Tri/Mark, Met Life, Prudential of America, Northwest mutual, Mutual Life of New York and Protective Life insurance of Birmingham Alabama who established “Estate Planning for people with Disabilities”, are major financial institutions in the United States. They established divisions dedicated to financial products for families who have a child with a disability. Over the years I have met and spoken to all of them, but all their programs failed. Met Life, Tri/Mark and Prudential of America continue to have a disability presence within their companies, but they all failed for the same reason. Protective life told me we found that “you can’t turn a financial advisor into a social worker and you can’t turn a social worker into a financial advisor”. They failed for one simple reason, they were selling product.

Solution The solution to this dilemma is the creation of foundations similar to the ones that market and sell RESP’s which the RDSP was modeled after. Foundations such as Heritage education and the Canadian Scholarship trust successfully sell RESP’s through a sales force that can earn a living wage selling RESP’s. Or a pooled RDSP that offers GIC’s only. A pooled trust offering GIC’s only will allow organizations, associations, agencies, family members, individuals and the more than 75,000 deposit agents and financial advisors across the country who offer GIC’s to sell RDSP’s in which the beneficiary can be the holder .

2. The identity of the holder The second reason the plan is failing is because of the interpretation of a holder set out in the regulations. Below is your definition of a holder.

The holder of the RDSP is the person or organization that opens and manages the RDSP.

* For beneficiaries under the age of majority, the holder can be a legal parent, legal representative or public department.
* For beneficiaries over the age of majority, the holder is generally the beneficiary. In certain circumstances, a guardian, legal representative or public department may be eligible to become the holder.

One of my clients attempted to open an RDSP for his niece who is in receipt of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). When his niece applied for the ODSP it was found that she has an IQ of 71, 1 point above the cutoff for the ODSP program. ODSP accepted her and she applied for an RDSP and named herself the holder. This was rejected. She completed a Power of Attorney naming her uncle as her power of attorney, the bank rejected the application. Her uncle emailed the director of the plan at the bank asking why he could not be the holder. The email reply he received from the major bank is set out in italics below. The name of the bank is anonymous.

2.1 THE BANKS COMMENTARY ON THE DEFINITION OF A HOLDER As you are no doubt aware, the scenario you have outlined on the legal representation of the RDSP has caused great concern to all parties involved with the RDSP, as we have all clearly heard in the sessions hosted by CRA on the RDSP 3 year review.

The RDSP is not a bank product governed by the Bank Act but is a Trusteed Plan governed under the Income Tax Act with a Trustee and a Bank as an agent. The RDSP was clearly not intended as a transactional type account. The whole concept of the RDSP makes the RDSP plan more complex that a savings account, with federally funded grant and bond payments, multiple investment options, and the impacts of making a withdrawal.

The current definition of who can be a Holder to open an RDSP is very restrictive; parent of a minor child, a legal guardian, or the beneficiary (over 18). If the beneficiary is to be the Holder we require that the beneficiary is capable of entering into a contractual agreement and managing their finances.

I believe the issue is more around the restrictive requirements of opening a plan, than the underlying investment decisions. Once the plan is opened, the Sales Person would engage the Holder in the discussion of appropriate investments within the plan; mutual funds or GIC.

From my understanding of the situation you have described, our hands are tied in opening a RDSP that follows the current definition of an RDSP Holder. Your (relative) would require the appointment of a legal guardian, of which I can completely understand the reasons for you not wanting to do so.

The Finance Department is clearly aware that legal representation of the RDSP is an issue and as part of the 3 year review has specifically reached out to the industry (including Providers, provincial Public Guardian & Trustee, Associations for Community Living etc) to review potential solutions.

As you can see their legal department has interpreted your definition of the “legal Holder” of the plan as, very restrictive. The government of Saskatchewan has sent out their definition of a holder in a booklet they printed for the public. Their interpretation is pasted below

2.2 Why is mental capacity important? “To set up an RDSP and manage it, a person must enter a contract with a financial institution. For contracts to be binding, the person signing the contract must have the capacity to understand the nature of the document and the consequences of signing the contract. Many persons with physical or mental disabilities have that capacity. However, some persons with extreme mental disabilities do not have the capacity to enter a contract. In this case, the person requires a legal representative appointed to sign the contract to set up an RDSP” province of Saskatchewan Office of “adult guardianship and trustee” booklet on the RDSP

2.3 What is Legal Capacity? The banks answer was “did the beneficiary of the plan know that if they withdrew $10.00 from the plan they would lose $45,000”. They are referring to paying back all the grants and bonds if a partial withdrawal from the plan is taken. This was something I was not aware of and none of the people in the review session I attended were aware of. If that is the test of capacity, how many of the parents who now hold an RDSP for their child is aware of the consequences of this regulation? I would venture that less than 1% or none.

Valued social inclusion of people with a disability is an important commitment in the United Nations Charter on people with a disability. People with an intellectual disability have the same rights as other citizens and have the right to live and participate in the community. They have the right to open a bank account, sign documents with the Ontario Disability Support program, and they should have the right to participate in the RDSP program. Denying them the right to own an RDSP denies their right to belong to the community and participate in the plan.

2.4 What is the benchmark to determine legal capacity? What is the measure or benchmark that the banks and issuers of the RDSP use to determine if the beneficiary is competent and has the capacity to be the holder of their RDSP? Is the benchmark the way they write or cannot write their name, their manner of speech, facial expression or mobility? In the absence of a clear definition we are left with the interpretation of eight corporate legal opinions. If you asked eight lawyers for a legal opinion you’ll get eight different answers, that’s par for the course.

I have a large number of people with a disability who have placed their assets in a segregated fund to exempt them from the ODSP asset rule and none of these applications have been denied. They own their own plan. In the absence of a clear definition of what the capacity of the holder is the plan will fail. If legal guardianship is the only benchmark of a holder as was stated at the seminar, the plan will not proceed.

2.5 Solution

* If the holder of the RDSP is the person or organization that opens and manages the RDSP, the organization that supports the person with a disability should be allowed to be a holder.

* A power of attorney for property should allow the POA to be the holder

* Allow a foundation established to help people with a disability be a holder.

* Establishment a deposit trust with a pooled RDSP fund offering guaranteed fixed assets only and the person with the disability can hold their RDSP.

* Remove the restriction that ONLY a trust company can offer a RDSP. This will allow life insurers to offer RDSP’s through their segregated funds.

Submitted by
John Dowson Ex. Director
LifeTRUST Planning
60 Harrison Drive Newmarket On L3Y 4P4
Toll free 1 800 638-7256 fax (905) 836-5458
Email :

Monday, December 12, 2011


By: John Rae

Over the past twenty or thirty years, the world has undergone dramatic changes. This is also true in the lives of persons with disabilities, including those of us who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted.

We used to say that access to information was our greatest barrier, then the internet came along, and now we also must deal with information overload, yet Donna Jodhan was compelled to file a Charter challenge against the federal government over inaccessible federal government websites.

Technology has made it possible for some individuals with disabilities to live more independent lives, yet much of the world's new technology is not developed with us in mind, often requiring work around or expensive adaptations.

The range of jobs is probably wider, yet some jobs that employed numbers of blind persons, like darkroom technician, transcriptionist, and telephone operator have been rendered largely obsolete by this same technology.

Braille is easier to produce than ever before, yet less and less is being made available, as some incorrectly argue it is no longer needed.

More and more blind students are attending colleges and universities, yet, even in this more technological era, these students must still deal with obtaining essential texts and other course materials in a readable format and timely manner.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the rights of persons with disabilities, but the federal government cancelled the Court Challenges Program, which makes it extremely difficult to go to court to test the reach of these rights.

Human rights codes now cover persons with various disabilities, yet enforcing our rights have too often become bogged down in legal procedural wrangling and growing case backlogs.

Descriptive narration is now being introduced to some movies and television shows, but some Canadian broadcasters will not or cannot "pass through" the dv track from some American programs that already include the dv track.

Intervenor services for deaf-blind persons have been developed, but governments have failed to adequately fund these critical programs and today they are also facing cutbacks.

Many museums are more physically accessible, but their displays often contain even more "hands off" restrictions than in years past.

More blind persons are out and about in their communities, yet few restaurants offer braille or large print menus.

More and more audible pedestrian signals are appearing in our communities, but community pressure leads to some being turned off at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., long before some of us are home and snug in our little beds.

Studies tell us public attitudes have improved, but our level of employment has not increased significantly.

And while there is now a growing network of consumer-led organizations of us rights holders across Canada, governments and businesses too often still turn to service organizations when they are seeking advice on disability issues.

Disability is the only equity seeking group that everyone can, and many will join during your lifetime, and with the aging of the baby boomer population, more and more individuals will experience disability, either permanently or temporarily, and so may your family members, friends or associates. Thus, it is in everyone's interest to help persons with disabilities join the mainstream of Canadian society.

The more persons with disabilities are present every day in newsrooms, the more likely we will see stories that cover the reality of our lives, and will tell the public about our aspirations and needs. The more we work with developers and manufacturers of new technology, the more likely that universal design approaches will be built in from the start of the development phase. And if more Canadians with disabilities participated more actively in the political process as staff members for the various parties, sought nomination as candidates, ran for elected office, and succeeded in getting elected - the more that members of our community participate more directly where decisions that affect our lives in a very direct way get made, the more likely those decisions will help bring us into the mainstream of Canadian society.

The research has been conducted. The recommendations are in. As our numbers continue to rise, will we see increased government and business commitment and concrete action?

Engage with us. Involve us. Collaborate with us.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Toronto Disability Pride March

Join us at the square, and come down to Occupy Toronto if you can! They're making great efforts to be accessible down there.

Why Disability Pride?

As a recognition of recent injuries and deaths of people with disabilities in interaction with Toronto Police. This march is not against police services, but recognizes the need for increased disability awareness training. No one should be dying in police interactions in Toronto!

Under the administration of Mayor Rob Ford, the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities Celebrations, which recognizes the achievements of people with disabilities in Toronto, has been cancelled without community input.

It is also to recognize that when cuts happen, people with disabilities are often the first to be hit. Under the Rob Ford administration, Wheeltrans services were almost on the chopping block, and social housing still is.

Not only are people with disabilities part of the 99%, they are typically part of the lowest 1% of the 99% - even in Canada.!

It's time we showed Toronto that Torontonians with Disabilities have a voice, and we will not be sold out or discriminated against!

Monday, September 26, 2011

About the Leader Running in Trinity-Spadina

Born a blind, Pakistani, albino to immigrants parents on welfare; Danish Ahmed has beaten all the odds. He has been involved in countless model parliaments and special programs like Forum for Young Canadians, Presidential Classroom, the Future World Leaders Summit, and the Inauguration of then U.S. President, Bill Clinton. He’s founded a dot-com, wrote a best-selling book, is a keynote speaker, and is a respected icon in the personal development industry.

The Party for People with Special Needs was established in 2007 and ran in the provincial election. While not elected, the party still helped families with disabilities receive over $2.4 million from the government. Danish Ahmed has several family members with disabilities, and his family has already been noted in the press as causing certain laws to change for people with disabilities. He is a social media expert, and his “Love Movie” has been seen by over a million people.

Our Leadership Values

Overcoming Adversity
The ability to deal with whatever happens.

Working Outside the Box
Knowing that anything is possible.

Diversity of Experience
Being able to relate with all people on all levels.

Following through on projects, promises, and passions.

Understanding the purpose of our humanity.

Vision & Hope
Exercising the human spirit to manifest
a world that works for everyone.

Watch our platform videos here:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Did you know that in Canada 77% of adults with a disability live in Poverty?

In Canada adults with a disability who are unable to work because of a disability are entitled to receive financial assistance from their provincial government. The maximum monthly benefit an individual living away from the family home is entitled to receive, is well below the national poverty line. In addition people with a disability in receipt of social benefits may not have liquid assets in excess of $2,500 or up to $5,000 depending on their provincial regulations. Any income is clawed back and assets in excess their governments asset limit will result in a loss of their disability benefits until they are spent down to the asset limit.

Individuals who receive disability benefits live a precarious existence. Many spend 60% or more of their monthly benefit cheque on rental accommodation alone and they are forced to use the food bank to supplement their daily diet. With paying rent, transportation, telephone and cable TV there is little left over for food, clothes, household items and bedding. Living on a disability benefit is not the lap of luxury, it’s barely an existence and still they get by. A future like this is not the kind of future parents would want for their child with a disability.

Well what can you do about it? You can wait and watch what happens, you can sit and wonder what will happen, or you can make things happen, it’s up to you.

Proper planning for the future financial security of your child with a disability is essential. At the same time there is a concern that any planning should not jeopardize their government disability benefits. Under these circumstances parents must make proper plans in the event of their death for several reasons:

* There must be adequate plans to protect their estate assets from being used to pay for services provided by the province.
* There must be full consideration for the future lifestyle of their child with a disability.
* There must be full consideration for their child’s brothers and sisters or their inheritance may be subsequently affected by the needs of their sibling with a disability.

Most parents believe in treating all their children equally, but this may not be the case for a child who is receiving government disability benefits. Many government programs will be reduced or discontinued if the child has assets in excess of the minimum asset limit. Parents are faced with the dilemma of maintaining government benefits while respecting the legislation and treating all their children equally. There are alternatives that can provide some security while protecting their child’s entitlement to disability benefits and other government services.

An Absolute Discretionary trust. In an absolute discretionary trust the assets and the income are not considered a liquid asset of the trust beneficiary. The funds in the trust will be spent for the benefit of the trust beneficiary at the absolute and unfettered discretion of the trustees. This protects the property in the trust from government benefits, because the beneficiary of the trust is deemed to not own the assets. On the death of the beneficiary any assets remaining in the trust can be distributed to the beneficiary’s siblings or their grandchildren or donated to a charity as a future gift.

A Living Legacy Another alternative is the use of a Life TRUST life insurance policy. This plan will pay a lifetime income into an Absolute Discretionary trust for a child with a disability without incurring estate costs and probate fees or reducing the inheritance of the child’s brothers and sister’s. The attraction of this type of plan is that the family can provide a lifetime income for their child without affecting the inheritance of their child’s brothers and sisters. For one parent families or families with limited estate assets this is an affordable alternative that will provide their child with an enhanced lifestyle after they’ve gone.

If people with a disability are to have the financial means to command a lifestyle above the poverty line its essential that families prepare a comprehensive plan for their child with a disability.

Will your child have the resources to purchase recreational equipment, tickets to the theatre and cultural events, new clothes, vacations, pizza nights with friends and the plans to make that happen? Or will your child eke out a living on government benefits? it’s up to you. You can make it happen.

John Dowson Executive Director Life Trust Planning.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Ultimate Youth Source to Change the World

This may be for Ontario, but the entire world needs to see this.

Hi there everyone!!

It’s funny how things happen.  When Student Vote 2011 originally asked me to answer ten questions from the student body, I had no idea what a string of serendipitous events would come together, and have us produce this masterpiece!

It’s an incredible resource.  With music, video clips, movie excerpts, relevant quotes, and links to cool sites that most people have never heard about!

It’s a phenomenal curriculum of ideas, possibilities, and specific routes of action, that show each person how they can make their contribution in transforming our world.

Visit and share:

I am proud of this creation.  We don’t know what’s in us, until we take the time to listen, and allow the universe to channel through us, the co-creative process of fulfilling our destiny.

Here are some highlights of our site:

- Music from Black Eyed Peas, Paul Hoffman, and Garret LoPorto.

- Feature-length movies like “Oh Canada: Our Bought & Sold Out Land”, “Into the Fire” and “Money As Debt”

- Viral Videos like “The Story of Stuff”, “The Story of Cap & Trade” and the special “Pay It Forward” extended trailer

- Discover how to get a FREE Life Coach

- Download of the Scholarship Training Guide & the Youth Entrepreneurship Info-Guide

- Travel the world through Youth Exchange Programs

- Get access to Accelerated Learning technologies

- Find dozens of other links most people don’t know about

- More resources are added all the time!

Visit and share:

Let’s love the world together...

[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary

P.S. Like Barack Obama's success was largely due to the grass-roots social media movement, you too have the power to make a substantial difference, right at your fingertips! How about sharing this with your parents or other relatives? Share this with your past teachers. Forward it to your friends.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Watch Our Party Videos!!

Hi there everyone!!

I was asked to create 90-second video responses to questions by students across Ontario on subjects of energy, employment, taxes, the economy, the medical system, education, and politics!

Check all videos out here:

The front page is my open letter to everyone.  You can use the navigation on the right to watch the videos of your choice.

Each video further contains the text, and additional information/resources about that particular topic.  Some topics include short videos or feature-length movies.  It’s a great self-contained curriculum to inspire local transformation and global shifts in consciousness.

Some people say, “I can’t vote.”  You don’t need to.  Sharing possibilities is the biggest vote of all.

Some people say, “You can’t win.”  I don’t need to.  Inspiring others is the biggest win of all.

Anything is possible, but what about the vision of using viral (the power of sharing through social media), to significantly change the political landscape?

We don’t need a political structure to shift mass consciousness.  We only need a willing spirit.

Share the videos here:

Share this on your Facebook Wall
Share this with your E-Mail Contacts
Tweet this on Twitter
Thumbs Up or Review on StumbleUpon
More Destinations...

Let’s love the world together...

[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2011 Ontario Provincial Elections

Hey there everyone!!

There are many different platforms that we can leverage to get exposure, shift consciousness, and ultimately transform the world.

Much of society is still fixated on the win/lose paradigm that has most people stay in competition.

Having a conversation, creating a new possibility, and inspiring another person is at the heart of true activism and spiritual co-creation.

Even a conversation like I’m having with you now.

I’m officially registered as the Leader for the Party for People with Special Needs in Ontario, Canada -- but it really doesn’t matter where you live.

Today, you can vote with your mouse by sharing our message through your social networks.  Use the Facebook, Twitter, or StumbleUpon icons at the top left of this web page.

We’ve already helped families with disabilities receive over $2.4 million!  Imagine what a difference that makes for people who are the most disadvantaged.

You can also support us by making a donation on the site, or becoming a member of That Free Thing (revenues from that position are used by PPSN for operations and outreach).  You can also setup your own non-profit or charity to be the beneficiary of a TFT position, building awareness as it builds income for your cause/mission.

Let’s love the world together...

[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary
The Party for People with Special Needs
Where all people are part of our community.

P.S. I’ll speaking Las Vegas at the official launch of That Free Thing, and will be out-of-town during my birthday.  If you’re near Las Vegas, come party with me.  Or check here for the details about the party in Toronto:

Thursday, July 28, 2011


What is a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)? It’s a long term savings plan, created by the Canadian Government in 2008, designed to help Canadians with disabilities and their families save for the future. Canada is the first country in the world to initiate a program that helps people with disabilities save for their future. The Canadian government will pay a matching Canada Disability Savings grant of up to $3,500 a year based on contributions. The government will also pay a Canada Disability Savings bond of up to $1,000 a year into an RDSP for low and modest income Canadians. No contributions are necessary to receive a Canada Disability savings bond.

To qualify as the beneficiary of an RDSP a person with a disability must be under age 60, a Canadian resident with a social insurance number and be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit. To qualify for the disability tax credit an individual must have a” severe and prolonged physical or mental disability”. It’s a non-refundable tax credit that will reduce the amount of income tax a person with a disability or their related caregiver has to pay. For more information on the disability tax credit visit

What is the Canada Disability grant? It is a matching grant that the government will deposit into an RDSP. The government will provide up to 300% in matching grants depending on the amount deposited and the individual’s net family income up to a maximum grant of $3,500 each year, with a lifetime limit of $70,000. Grants will be paid into an RDSP until the year the beneficiary of the RDSP turns 49 years old.

For example if the beneficiary’s net family income is less than or equal to $83,088, for the first $500 deposited each year the government will deposit $3 for every $1 deposit. For the next $1,000 deposit the government will deposit $2 for every $1 deposit up to $1,500 a year; subject to beneficiary’s net family income. (Note the income amounts shown are for 2011, the amounts will be updated each year based on the rate of inflation). After age 18 the net family income is based on the individual’s net income and not their parents net family income.

What is the Canada Disability Savings Bond? It is money the government will deposit into an RDSP of low or modest income Canadians. RDSP beneficiaries who qualify for a bond will receive up to $1,000 a year, with a lifetime limit of $20,000. Bonds will be paid into an RDSP until the year the beneficiary turns 49 years old. No contributions are necessary to receive the bond.

For example, if the beneficiary’s net family income is less than $24,183 the government will deposit $1,000 each year into the RDSP. If the beneficiary’s net family income is between $24,183 and $41,544, a portion of the bond will be deposited each year and as the income increases the amount of the bond will decrease. (Note the income amounts shown are for 2011, the amounts will be updated each year based on the rate of inflation)

The proceeds from a deceased’s RRSP, RRIF and RPP can be rolled over into the RDSP of a financially dependent child or grandchild with a disability. Money from an RDSP can be withdrawn at any age; however withdrawals must begin at age 60. When money is withdrawn, grants and bonds must remain in an RDSP for at least 10 years. When money is withdrawn, all grants and bonds paid into the RDSP during the 10 years before must be repaid. The RDSP is a must plan for everyone that qualifies. Don’t miss out on this fantastic plan for people with disabilities. For more information visit or call 1 800 622-6232

John Dowson Ex Director Life Trust Planning

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


By John Dowson Ch lp

Emotion and confusion often marks the lives of people with disabilities when it comes to long range planning by their families when they die without leaving specific plans and resources for their family member with a disability. Inevitably, with no plans for the future, the courts and public agencies will move in to deal with the problem, which are now beset with government fiscal woes, growing bureaucracies and curtailed services. Families who want to leave money to their sons/daughter or grandchildren with a disability may disqualify them from most of the public programs available to people with disabilities in Canada. Programs such as the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Supportive Independent Living, assisted public housing and a host of services and programs, all required recipients to have resources of less than their provincial asset limit. The current threshold in Ontario is $5,000.

In spite of alternatives for lifetime planning, very few families who have a family member with a disability actually take steps to provide resources and programs for their family member after their death. People with disabilities are facing increasingly tragic alternatives when their families have not adequately provided for, or planned for their future financial security after they’ve gone. In their later years people with a disability are destined to eke out a living relying on food banks and homeless shelters. In Canada there are more than one million people with a disability living with their families who have made little or no provision for them when the family members are no longer alive or able to provide assistance.

There are currently acceptable estate planning procedures whereby a person with a disability can participate in the benefits of an estate without jeopardizing their government benefits and entitlements. Disinheriting a child with a disability is not allowed in most provinces however an inheritance left in an absolute discretionary or special needs trust is considered an exempt asset in the majority of provinces and states. Families should familiarize themselves with these procedures before meeting with a lawyer

They should engage the services of a financial planner with experience and expert knowledge in this area to assist with the family’s estate plans. A reputable “Life Planner” or “Chartered Life Planner” (Ch lp) will recognize that most families who have a family member with a disability have limited resources. The planner’s primary job is to find available resources and reallocate them to the trust so that the future funding of the trust will be realistic without offending other children or creating a drawn-out legal battle should they or the government place claims against the estate and the financial plan.

In consultation with parents, caregivers and associations who support people with disabilities, Life TRUST Planning has developed a Comprehensive Life PLAN to financially assist people with disabilities when there are no longer any family members available. Life TRUST Planning offers workshops and seminars to help parents and relatives create a Comprehensive Life PLAN for their child or relative. Topics include Government entitlements, Disability Tax Credits, a Letter of intent, a Henson trust, how to select trustees, estate distribution and a living Legacy Life TRUST Plan. For more information or to book a seminar Contact: LifeTRUST Planning,60 Harrison Dr. Newmarket On. L3Y 4P4 1 800 638-7256 email or

Monday, May 30, 2011

Un message du chef du Parti pour les personnes ayant des besoins spéciaux

Je m'appelle Danish Ahmed. Vous ne vous en êtes peut-être pas rendu compte, mais en réalité, je suis Pakistanais. Comme je suis albinos, mes cheveux et ma peau sont très clairs. Par ailleurs, je suis aveugle au sens de la loi en raison de mon albinisme. Malgré ces handicaps, je mène une vie à la fois très fonctionnelle, riche et épanouissante.

Le Parti pour les personnes ayant des besoins spéciaux a été créé pour servir la population de personnes handicapées qui méritent de mener une vie à la fois fonctionnelle, riche et épanouissante. En quoi cela vous concerne-t-il? La population vieillit rapidement, et vos parents finiront probablement par souffrir d'un handicap. Plus important encore, sans le savoir, vous avez probablement un ami ou une amie, voire un ou une collègue, qui souffre de troubles physiques ou émotifs. Si mes handicaps sont évidents pour certains, il n’en reste pas moins que la plupart des handicaps ne sont pas aussi apparents.

Un bon gouvernement doit être en mesure de trouver des solutions à long terme pour remédier aux problèmes qui existent aujourd’hui, ainsi que pour relever les défis qui se présenteront dans un avenir prévisible. Les personnes ayant des besoins spéciaux veulent une solution à long terme. La bonne nouvelle, c'est que les personnes handicapées continueront à faire partie de notre réalité. En fournissant des accommodements aux personnes, en tenant compte des besoins spéciaux et en favorisant la diversité, nous stimulons l’économie et créons un environnement propice à la création, où les individus peuvent tisser des liens avec plus de monde et s’épanouir pleinement. C’est une occasion en or pour le gouvernement de faire une différence dans la vie de tout le monde.

Notre gouvernement s’est avéré être un chef de file en matière d’égalité des droits et d’accessibilité pour tous. Mon objectif est d'inspirer les gens et de leur faire savoir que, peu importe l’adversité à laquelle ils font face, nous vivons aujourd'hui dans une culture qui nous permet de poursuivre nos rêves et nos visions individuelles.

Le Parti pour les personnes ayant des besoins spéciaux
-- Où tout le monde fait partie de notre communauté

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tax Deductions

Thank you for your support:

Your Donation costs less due to Ontario Political tax credits!

You can support our movement generously, and for the most part, expect a 75% refund. This comes in the form of an Ontario Political Tax Credit which is refunded in cash at tax time, April of next year. See the numbers below.

The government is generous in often refunding 3/4 of your donation to you because there is a pressing need to engage more Canadians in making political donations. Only 2% of Canadians donate to political parties.
There is a need to increase this to improve participation and increase the legitimacy and credibility of our democratic system.

The sample numbers below demonstrate how you can support the political voice we create for the community of people affected by disabilities, and how little it actually costs you:

100.00 75.00 25.00
414.00 300.00 114.00


Corporations making political contributions can deduct up to a maximum of $16,800 from the Ontario portion of their taxable income in any fiscal period.

Thank you for your listening, your compassion, and your generosity.You will be mailed an official Ontario Political Tax Receipt prior to tax time next year.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

The Party for People with Special Needs

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Justice Committee Bill 140

To: Trevor Day, Clerk                               
Re. Justice Committee, Bill 140
Response to a request to recommend amendments to Bill 140                 April 6, 2011

Dear Sir,
Last week some members of the Justice Committee requested of me, Dr. Jane Pritchard, some recommendations for amendments to Bill 140, based on my deputation, March 31,2011.

Attached please find my recommendations for amendments.

I have prepared these recommendations in collaboration with Dan King, who is a tenant and former director of Toronto Community Housing Corp.

If it pleases the Justice Committee, we would be very honoured to be summoned to present our recommended amendments and to respond to questions from the Committee.

In view of how important we consider Bill 140 to be for the future of hundreds of thousands of citizens living in social housing, we would be happy to make ourselves available, at the pleasure of the Committee, to provide an in-depth understanding of our recommendations for the legislation.

We look forward to hearing from the Chair regarding our appearance before the Committee.

Dr. Jane Pritchard
Dan King

Dr. Jane Pritchard is a family physician, serving the tenants of Toronto Community Housing. Since 1990, she has been attending weekly clinics on-site at two buildings comprised mostly of low income seniors.  She  also works extensively with the homeless population of Toronto, providing medical services at the 416 Community Drop In Centre for Women, and Evergreen Health Centre for street youth over a similar time frame.  Dr. Pritchard  is the chairperson of  Lazarus Rising,  a joint project of the Mennonite Central Committee and Sanctuary Ministries of Toronto, accompanying homeless folk in downtown Toronto.  She considers that  three years spent  working in rural Bangladesh in the early 1980s was good preparation for working with the urban poor of Canada. . M. Jane Pritchard M.D., CCFP, FPFC

M. Jane Pritchard, M.D.
795 Eglinton Avenue East  Toronto ON M4G 4E4
416-424-3145 fax 416-424-2611
cell 416-568-8299  home: 416-421-7079
99 Woodmount Avenue Toronto ON M4C 3Y3

Dan King, MBA
Dan has lived in TCHC as a market rent tenant since 1979.
In the fall of 2007 Dan was elected as a tenant director of Toronto Community Housing Corp and has since served four years on the board. He has served on the Audit committee, the Finance committee, the Building and Investment Committee and the Corporate Affairs Committee.
He runs his own business and also serves on the board of four registered Canadian Charities in the Toronto community.

Dan King
505 - 341 Bloor W   Toronto ON M5S 1W8 

RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FOR AMENDMENTS- Bill 140:                         Apr. 6, 2011

We are  at a crossroads as we consider legislation that will have a profound effect on the safety and even survival of the most vulnerable members of our society over the next ten years.
Our responses to Bill 140 reflect our concern for their welfare.

1. Affordable housing strengthens the foundations of communities and is an important public asset.
Social housing is a necessity for all communities, literally to prevent needless and costly deaths that will happen in the streets.

There is a high cost to an absence of social housing sufficient to meet the needs of the

disadvantaged. In one documented example, "Million Dollar Murray", a homeless man in Las Vegas in one year, cost the State of Nevada over a million dollars in emergancy services.
We know of many examples of daily visits by police and paramedics to vulnerable tenants in Toronto with inadequate social supports. These could be largely prevented by in-house support services for tenants.

RECOMMENDATION: [a cost improvement]
That the Province implement a strategy of reducing costs for emergency services by reducing the need for these services by meeting the needs of vulnerable tenants using social housing.
Expanding effective delivery of supports in social housing will reduce emergency costs.

2. HOUSING AGENCIES MUST BE EMPOWERED to access the support services their tenants need, provided in-house. Local sourcing will reduce barriers and mistrust among a needy population and increase voluntary engagement in receiving needed services. Vulnerable tenants are often unwilling or unable to travel to obtain the services they need to stay housed.

Housing and services must be provided simultaneously to minimize disruption to stable communities.

RECOMMENDATION:  [revenue neutral]
This can be done by first reducing the funding of a range of agencies that could provide these services. This money can then be allocated by population to social housing providers who must be forbidden to spend the money themselves, on their own budgets. These moneys could only be reallocated to those same external service providers, who have the in-depth expertise to deal with problems requiring specialized  skills.

To meet their needs, housing providers can allocate the monies to the agencies they have selected.

3. Social Housing agencies must be able to provide CASEWORKERS IN-HOUSE.
There will be a mix of in-house workers as well as workers from outside agencies with higher skills qualified to deliver the services.

4. Many EXPERIMENTS IN TENANT DEMOCRACY have been effective in delivering engagement and communication between the tenant community and management.

Maintain existing tenant participation programs that exist in some social housing venues and add more to meet the needs of the community for community engagement. This will support a long-term trend to reduce the cost of emergency services.

Examples of programs already in place in Toronto Community Housing Corp:

Tenant participation programs - Tenants elect their own representatives in their buildings or unit.
Participatory Capital budgeting allocation program - tenants get to design and advocate local improvements.
Social investment fund grants - money is available for local community-building projects. eg. Youth employment programs and resume workshops. 
Eviction prevention programs - many more alternatives are negotiated when a tenancy agreement is violated.

81 recommendations of the Lesage Report were compiled at public expense as a blueprint for improving social housing to a standard that meets its mandate.

All of these have been experimented with in some social housing, and should be expanded to meet community needs. These will save money in the long run and avoid a build-up of a costly social deficit that will be paid in increased demand for emergency services.

Bed bugs are an emerging menace that must be dealt with comprehensively or we will lose this battle. What happens to the poor happens to all of us.

Publically funded projects must lead the way to non-toxic structural pest control, bed bugs in particular.
Tenants inevitably resist toxic sprays, especially second or third followup applications.
This already causes tension, threatened evictions, and raises real questions of toxic liability.
Effective methods, notably heat, dry ice, and detection by dogs, face no such resistance from tenants. Furthermore, only buildings pest controlled in these ways are LEED certifiable.
This is a major factor in attracting both public and private investment.

By keeping vulnerable tenants in social housing we can create accessibility to effective monitoring and sustainable treatment of these problems, reducing service costs.

6. There have been many many examples of how the burden of paperwork has led to an unjustified "failure to qualify" by a needy person for their Rent Geared to Income program. The consequences of this have been eviction, homelessness and sometimes death.

The Rent-Geared-to-Income program qualification process must be simplified.
Simply signing a CRA T1013 form should give housing authorities all of the access they need to monitor a tenant's annual income through the Canada Revenue Agency online system.
Any expanded system that looks at tenants' income in more detail is not cost effective.

Rental offices frequently make miscalculations in determining the amount of rent a tenant should pay from year to year.
Since we are dealing with a vulnerable population that may not be empowered to challenge their housing office, greater accessibility to fair process is required.

Tenants need an independent review process when disputing decisions made by housing providers, such as revoking a rental subsidy.  The people reviewing the decisions should not be the co-workers of the people who made them in the first place. Bill 140 should mandate the creation of an independent reviewer to consider these disputes.

Similarly, under existing legislation, co-ops and non-profits have not had the ability to seek an independent review of Municipal Service Manager actions or decisions that did not involve costly court proceedings.
The Bill 140 must introduce an independent, fair and transparent appeals process for housing providers.


Tenants on social assistance who live in social housing should not be worse off if they find a job.

They may need some breathing room to pay off old debts and get their life in order andy pay for the expenses of starting new employment.
This may include accumulated credit card debts or new work clothes required for their new  position. 
The Bill 140 should protect tenants from rapid rent hikes if their income rises.

10. Means must be found to improve security in social housing buildings.
Currently there is no recognition of a portion of the population that can be designated as "hard to house". This has a disproportionate impact on those communities receiving our most vulnerable citizens, often with quite a disruptive impact.

Enabling legislation must recognize the needs of the "hard to house", especially when they return to their homes after an episode in an institutional setting.
We need to provide a means to prepare serving professionals in their community for their return.
This can be done in one of two ways.

By setting up "outreach workers" in an institutional setting, nurses or physicians, who are qualified to go out and serve tenants in their homes and communities.
- or -
Transfer of files from the institution to in-house professionals. eg. CAMH to certified visiting medical professionals or housing staff medical professionals.
Followup services will be delivered in their homes eg. the administration of medication.

Improve Security
One of the most effective means of improving security is to ensure that social housing consists of mixed communities, RGI and normal market rent tenants. Market rent tenants will have a fulfillable demand for security in their homes and provide diversity to their community.

Improve Security
Introduce Inclusionary housing:
One of the fastest and fairest ways to create safe, stable, equitably accessible, affordable housing is to ensure that it is built into any new development. 

Improve Security
The government needs to amend the Planning Act to allow municipalities to introduce inclusionary housing policies.
Change the Planning Act and the Condominium Act to permit mixed of condos and social housing suites in a single building.

11. COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT is an essential component of social housing.
Economic opportunities to create their own small businesses and jobs in the economic activity of the housing operation must be made available to tenants. Restoring their place in our society and the economy will relieve social problems and improve self-sufficiency.
Make programs for jobs and training to be made available from the economic activity surrounding housing delivery.
eg. A Unit refurbishment contract has a specified formula for dollars spent against the number of jobs created for tenants.  

Introduce the world famous "Micro-loans program" into social housing all over Ontario.
Paradoxically, the sentiment is increasing that if it worked in Bangladesh, it will work here in Ontario in social housing.

12. THE DEMAND FOR SOCIAL HOUSING will only increase with the current demographic trend - aging population.
Passing control to municipalities must not be used to dismantle it and sell the assets.

Transfer of mandate from Province to municipality must not mean transferring responsibility for standards, which will only mean an incentive to erode service. Individual municipalities will find that they will save money if they to allow the poor and the needy to become "somebody else's problem". The disadvantaged will be given "bus tickets to Toronto".

The Bill 140 should make it illegal for municipalities to reduce the number of units of social housing offered in their communities.

We need provincial standards and requirements for social housing as delivered by municipalities.
There should be a freeze on the reduction of social housing.

Eventually, the federal government should take control over national standards.
The Funding source - must be regional or provincial to prevent inter-regional negative competition.
The best plan is for a balance of service, offered by all communities.

13. Some components of privatized delivery of services have been experimented with.
eg. Private management, private contracting of some services.
Best is to gradually implement a mix of public and private delivery rather than an all-out conversion to a private system without any knowledge that it can work.

Desire to experiment with privatization to get costs savings continues to exist.
Every experiment must be carefully evaluated in terms of the savings obtained versus negative impacts on stable communities.

Sec. 4(1)d "has a role for the private market in meeting housing needs"
Considerable apprehension is felt on this issue. Public discussion is needed before any untested expansion or major changes in this area are made.
Many private services are currently implemented already in the delivery of some components of public housing. These are already standard practice and well-accepted.

15. Initiate measures to introduce some equalization between communities. "416" has much greater social housing than "905"
This will permit people who need social housing to stay in their own communities, rather than having to switch communities. Additionally, with a municipally funded system, this will introduce some equity between municipalities.

Finally, a provincially-organized pool of funding for social housing, once in place, now discontinued, was a stop-gap measure to spread out the burden of social housing between all municipalities in a region.

This should be resurrected and continued until the burden is equally distributed among all communities.

16. A ROYAL COMMISSION is needed.
A Royal Commission on the development of a provincial or national housing policy would be useful at this time, for the following reasons:

•    Social housing is clearly in crisis right now
•    many alternatives are currently being proposed
•    population demographics point to massive increase in demand to meet the needs of an aging population.

Monday, April 25, 2011

So what can we do to save and fix TCHC?

Be informed, get involved- find out for yourself what’s going on, go to meetings, check online and alternative media as well as the news, and talk to your family and neighbours.

Elected officials respond to pressure, it only takes a few minutes to send an email or make a phone call 

We all have the right to defend our rights to affordable, decent, secure housing that is managed within a democratic and accountable framework.

Tenants need:

Reformed Provincial housing laws to allow TCHC to function better and be able provide needed services and community investment.

Action: Call/email your MPP and tell them you want social housing to be protected by not allowing the number of units to be reduced (and other issues you want addressed)

We need to keep public ownership and management:

To keep programs and services like eviction prevention, tenant budget process, youth councils, scholarships and employment programs

To get more elected tenants on the board, at least many as there are councillors, including youth- who have a long-term stake in the issue.

The recommendations of the Lesage Inquest to protect vulnerable tenants must be implemented….

Any form of partnership set up to manage TCHC must include tenant and public participation as it is a valuable public asset.

All social housing communities need:

Adequate funding from the city, province and federal government to maintain and retrofit healthy energy efficient housing, and to provide more housing for the 75,000 people still on the waiting list.

Action: Attend all candidates meetings and ask why Canada does not have a social housing strategy like all other western nations, tell them stable funding for social housing is an investment in healthy communities, ask if they will commit to supporting social housing.

We do not need our homes and leases to be exploited by private companies. Private corporations are only accountable to their owners and shareholders and cannot afford to deliver services to vulnerable tenants.

Publicly owned Housing is an investment in healthy families and communities, not a cost to society! Homelessness and broken families are more costly in every way.

Action: Call and or email your councillor as well as Mayor Rob Ford. Send your letters (keep them short) to the media as well….it’s easy! google the City of Toronto and find your councilor’s contact info, and or look up  newspapers online and look for letters to the editor, or send emails to the CBC, CTV etc.

Don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights, it is against the law to threaten people with eviction or firing for speaking up to defend their human rights.

Get advice from community legal clinics to be sure of your rights and responsibilities, ensure you have legal support if needed. Call 211 to find out where your local legal clinic is. Some can also help you organize your community!

Social housing has been sold off in other places and many people lost their homes. If you don’t get involved, you may find yourself asking what might have happened if you had!