No reason to miss out on a $20,000 gift

It has been around for almost 15 years and its generosity is beyond doubt. However, the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is not nearly as well known and used as the RRSP or the RESP. It’s not normal, says a young 23-year-old software engineer-turned-entrepreneur with an ambition to rectify the situation.

Posted at 6:30am

Of the registered accounts, the RDSP is the most opaque.

That’s a shame. Because Ottawa pays grants of up to 300% of the sums brought in. And even if you don’t have the means to save a penny, the mere fact of opening an account allows those less fortunate to receive $20,000 as a gift. Yet less than a third of eligible individuals contribute.

Why evade it?

Statistics Canada responded in April. Of course, in order to use the RDSP, you need to know that it exists. Yet nearly half (46%) of eligible individuals — those who qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) — don’t know what it is. Of those familiar with the program, nearly half do not contribute due to lack of funds. Others lack information (29%) or find it too complicated (15%).

In order to simplify the lives of people with disabilities, in 2021 Michel-Alexandre Riendeau launched an online platform that allows you to open an RDSP “in a few minutes”. His name: Terry, in honor of athlete Terry Fox. 600 accounts have already been opened. The service is free.


PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

Michel-Alexandre Riendeau, founder of the new online platform Terry that makes it easy to open an RDSP

“You need some expertise. We only do RDSPs, which allows us to have streamlined and effective processes to better serve this sadly forgotten population,” points out the man, who has surrounded himself with investors who care about the cause, like the actor and screenwriter Louis Morissette, whose sister has cerebral palsy.

Don’t think the pool of potential customers is midgets. In Quebec, more than 1 million people have a disability.

Guillaume Parent is well placed to understand Michel-Alexandre Riendeau, whose arrival at the market he welcomes because “the rink is very big”. In 2010 he founded his company Finandicap with the same goals as his competitor. “In the beginning I was very naive. I thought with all the subsidies there was a line. But no ! Myths still plague the RDSP today.

Even more shocking is that half of us apply for the DTC in Quebec than anywhere else in the country.

Guillaume Parent, Founding President of Finandicap

The lack of cooperation from doctors who have to sign forms is the main reason, argues Finandicap’s president.


PHOTO DOMINICK GRAVEL, THE PRESS

Guillaume Parent, Founding President of Finandicap, a company specializing in RDSPs and financial planning for people with disabilities and disabilities

Véronique Bolduc, who has suffered from type 1 diabetes for 25 years, can confirm this. The endocrinologist who followed her for years refused to fill out the paperwork on the pretext that the medical board was preventing him and he could be prosecuted. “I thought I was unlucky, but no, my second endocrinologist told me exactly the same thing! »

40-year-old self-employed woman wants to get the DTC to access the RDSP. This plan would secure her financial situation, she argues, since it is difficult for her to get disability insurance. She just got the documents signed.

This scenario is common.

Completing the documents “is a nightmare,” notes Michel-Alexandre Riendeau. “This is hell,” adds Guillaume Parent, regretting that doctors “advent tax experts” assume the DTC is “not worth it.”

The College of Physicians informed me that they have never issued a policy regarding the DTC and have never received a complaint from the public. The Federation of General Practitioners of Quebec and the Federation of Medical Specialists of Quebec also swear they have not issued a statement on the matter.

However, of all provinces, Quebec has the lowest utilization rate of the DTC and RDSP. According to the organization Finautonome, “Quebec is the least good at identifying people with disabilities.” His mission right now is to catch up.

For their part, Terry and Finandicap are there to help parents of children with disabilities prepare for the future with the RDSP. Adults can also subscribe for their own needs.

While traditional banks do not advertise, they also open RDSP accounts. This is the case at BMO, but not in branches. Everything is done over the phone. A “dedicated” call center allows having a better trained team for this financial product that is “more complex than the RESP,” justifies BMO’s head of RDSP account support, Ralph Awad.

It pays to get the right information. Especially since, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be “really injured to be disabled,” emphasizes Guillaume Parent.

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  • 12 billion
    Total value of assets held in domestic RDSP accounts

    Source: Financecap

    +20%
    Annual growth of this wealth (returns and new accounts)

    Source: Financecap

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