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June 15, 2018

Canadian banking in the 21st century

Canada, as you know, has a very generous tax-deferred investment plan for people with disabilities.  The Registered Disability Savings Plan allows individual contributions and has a system of grants and bonds so that even those with minimal or no income can accumulate considerable assets.

The accounts reside at banks, and the holder directs the investment.  Sounds simple.  Except if you're deaf.  Herewith an email exchange:

I just got off the phone with our investment department regarding your question of how to provide instructions to make contributions to your RDSP.

As I explained to you when we met, this cannot be done at the branch, the way to do it is through telephonic instructions, I explained your situation and they said they have done this with other customers using the TTY service.

RDSP Holder:
I do not use a TTY anymore since the iPhones came out. I've heard this before. The same old story.

I will try to call via Video Relay Service next week. What bothers me is that why is this such a hold up as it should be rather easy to deposit the $ into the RDSP account. It's beyond ridiculous to call through the Federal Gov't first and then, an approval to deposit?
I already have an RDSP account and what more does it need to be explained? My point is to make a deposit. Simple as that.

June 13, 2018

The number of people with disabilities in Nova Scotia

I've often wondered how many people with disabilities there really are in Nova Scotia.  Always the numbers come from self-identification - the census and various surveys.  They never are independently verified, so having a disability could range from quadriplegia to having a bad back.  From being mildly dyslexic to being blind.  From depressed to institutionalized.

Dalhousie does an employee census, 1700 responses.  5.6% with a disability.  That's 95 people.  The province does a similar exercise.  They report their labour force of 11,000 is 9.2% persons with disabilities - 1,012.  HRM has had a Diversity Office for several years, but has not produced a report, claiming privacy concerns.

Statistics Canada says 18.8% of Nova Scotians are people with disabilities.  That's roughly 200,000 people.

As far as I know, the only independent assessment of just who is a person with a disability is done by the Canada Revenue Agency.  In order to receive a Disability Tax Credit of $8,000 or so, a doctor's signature is needed. 

The DTC makes one eligible for a Registered Disability Savings Program.  Buried deep in a 2015 report on RDSPs are some revealing numbers:

123,020 Canadians have an RDSP
The average value is  $21,444
There are 443,241 eligible Canadians age 0 to 50 (people with  a DTC)
So the uptake is 24.3%

In Nova Scotia
3,332 have RDSPs
Average value $17,644
19,040 Eligible
17.5% uptake

19,040 is about a tenth of the 200,000 number we usually use, but my reading of it is that it's the actual number of those receiving a DTC, and therefore quite a realistic number.

$17,644 net worth puts a person somewhere in the second quintile of Canadians, a fact lost on many in the business community.  When it comes time to cash out, there are certain advantages to a RDSP, making each dollar go further.

The 19,040 number is probably low, as not everyone has to file taxes or needs a credit of any kind (the DTC is non-refundable), but it would be very difficult to get to 200,000 people with disabilities.

May 26, 2018

2018 Hebb Awards

The Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities announced several awards for this year's Access Awareness Week.  The Access award goes to Ambassatours CEO Dennis Campbell, who is a tremendous asset to the Halifax business community, for the achievement of making the Harbour Hopper wheelchair accessible.  This society's involvement with the project dates to the very beginning in 2015.  

The project was not simple, posing considerable engineering challenges, as well as unique
safety and licensing issues.  Campbell and his team pitched in with a passion, using a portable commercial lift as the centerpiece of the new system. With a removable seat and companion seating, the Harbour Hopper now offers completely accessible tours, so visitors, residents and school groups can enjoy a signature experience.  This award is richly deserved, not least because Mr. Campbell graciously started with the premise that full accessibility is the right goal. The tour is a terrific experience that brings new dimensions to Halifax tourism!

From the wide range of successful tours, the inescapable conclusion is that Campbell is playing chess and others are playing checkers.  There are 2,168,458 people over 65 in New England, a day's drive.  Many don't want a strenuous day, they just want to have an adventure.  In 2016, 135 ships brought 251,720 passengers to Halifax, all with carefully vetted activity levels for excursions.

Apart from his business acumen and foresight, Dennis Campbell is a true gentleman.  Congratulations on a super award!