* Please note that some are region-specific and/or income-dependent
- Assistance For Children With Severe Disabilities (ACSD)
- Disability Tax Credit (DTC)
- Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
- Special Services At Home Program (SSAH)
- Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
- Trillium Drug Program (TDP)
- Assistive Devices Program (ADP)
REGIONAL FUNDING PROGRAMS
- March Break Reimbursement Fund
- One-to-One Summer Support Worker Reimbursement Fund
- Building Brighter Futures Fund
POST-SECONDARY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE, SCHOLARSHIPS, BURSARIES
For those with limited financial resources, there are several grants to help. Disability centres at universities and colleges generally require a recent educational assessment (some will help your child get assessed.)
1. Apply for Canada Student Loan assistance first. Even if you are not planning on taking a government loan (OSAP in Ontario), your son or daughterʹs eligibility for assistance opens the door to the disability‐related grants below.
2. Bring the separate application form for the grants (available from website below) to the University/College disability centre office when you arrange a meeting with them (after your son/daughter has been accepted to the institution and you have received notice of loan acceptance). The office needs to sign off on the applications.
Scholarship applications are usually due in the early spring of the year in which the student is commencing their studies in September. Contact the individual scholarship organizations to obtain the application criteria and deadline submission dates.
In addition to the scholarships listed below, contact the university or community college directly to obtain information of other scholarships that might be available.
- Easter Seals offers several scholarships. Check website for eligibility criteria
- Autism Ontario offers 3 post-secondary scholarships. Check website for application dates
- AUCC Scholarship Programs
- DisabilityAwards.ca is the site to search awards and scholarships for students with disabilities studying at Canada’s colleges and universities.
- Scholarships Canada provides a database on scholarships, awards and bursaries from across Canada.
OTHER FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
- A Child’s Voice Foundation (Kids Life Line)
- Easter Seals Incontinence Supplies Grant Program
- Easter Seals Top Up Program
- Ceridian Cares
- Waves of Changes For Autism (Vaughan region only)
- Ausum Charity for Autism
SPECIAL BENEFIT PROGRAMS
- Access 2 Entertainment Card
- WestJet – One Person One Fare
- Canada’s Wonderland Ride Boarding Pass
- TTC Support Person Assistance Card
TRUST FUNDS AND OTHER RESOURCES
WHAT SHOULD CANADIAN FAMILIES DO IF THEY ARE SUPPORTING A CHILD/YOUTH WITH A DISABILITY*
1. Secure the Disability Tax Credit Certificate (DTC) – The Disability Tax Credit Certificate will provide you with tax credits that can save you a significant amount of money in taxes. This is not to be overlooked. If your child has had a disability for 10 years or more, you may be able to claim these tax credits going back as far as 10 years if you never claimed these credits – many people have received thousands of dollars in doing so.
2. Open up a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) account as early as possible and maximize the government contributions every year – The RDSP was created to promote long-term savings to help support individuals with disabilities later in life. The earlier you start the earlier your child will be able to access the funds in the account without the government retracting any contributions they made. The downside of withdrawing money too early is severe. Those who maximize the contributions may realistically accumulate over $300,000. Maximizing government contributions will cost you $1,000 or $1,500 a year, depending on family income.
3. Protect your income and assets if you and your family rely on it – If losing your income or significant assets (i.e. house, retirement investments, etc.) would create serious hardship, consider insuring your income and your assets. The question you can ask yourself to assess the need is, “what would happen to me and my family if I became disabled due to an accident or illness and my income disappeared or was reduced dramatically?” The other question is, if I were to die, how would my family fair financially?” If your answers describe hardships you would not be willing to endure or your family to endure, speak to an expert you trust.
4. Prepare your last will and testament – Find a lawyer who has worked with many families who have kids with disabilities because there are some very particular estate planning strategies for parents of children with disabilities, especially if your child is or will be on ODSP. Unless your child will be able to support themselves, financially through their adulthood, the absence of a properly structured estate plan that is well funded can severely affect your child’s quality of life once you pass away.
5. Get the right advice and support – Either get your current advisor to support you on these particular planning objectives or find one that will. Just bear in mind, as your child grows older, especially if they need to rely on ODSP, you will benefit a great deal more if your advisor understands the disability sector and the related financial planning issues. In addition to helping you determine the appropriate products and solutions, they should also help you implement these solutions in a thoughtful and manageable manner. Your advisor should understand your financial circumstances, including the limits of your resources and the other competing priorities you must manage.
(*From financial planner Ron Malis (http://www.ronmalis.com/)