By Krystian Shaw
My name is Krystian Shaw and I am a proud member of the BC Self Advocacy movement.
This article is a tribute to the late Jim Flaherty. A man I believe changed the future of many people with disabilities in our country.
Jim Flaherty was a federal minister of Finance. Among Jim Flaherty’s many successes, we can also say he was a poverty fighter.
I believe that next to social isolation, poverty is the biggest barrier for those with special needs. Mr. Flaherty wanted to change this fact.
That is what his motive was in creating the Registered Disability Savings Program (RDSP).
The RDSP is a tool to fight poverty that puts money directly in the bank accounts of Canadians with disabilities.
In just a few years, 75,000 Canadians with disabilities have accumulated more than $1-billion dollars in assets. In five years, those totals will triple.
Mr. Flaherty understood what poverty activists around the world understand – the path out of poverty begins when you can accumulate assets.
Self advocates and individuals with disabilities all over the country are now able to save money because the money you accumulate with the RDSP doesn’t affect your disability assistance income.
You can have these assets and still receive your disability assistance cheque.
Jim Flaherty understood because he was the father of a son with a disability. He designed the RDSP to be simple.
In effect, Jim Flaherty was a Canadian politician who said, ‘I trust people with disabilities to make the right decisions with their money.’ He was right, we can make our own decisions.
Canadians with disability can use their RDSP to save for retirement years, invest in their own home, or take courses that will qualify them for a job.
We can now speak with pride knowing we can look forward to fulfilling their dreams.
Other countries around the world are following Mr. Flaherty’s example, which is making a bigger contribution to society.
There is now a bill before the U.S. Congress to establish tax-advantaged savings accounts for people with disabilities and their families.
The new disability insurance program in Australia was similarly inspired.
Mr. Flaherty passed away on April 10th 2014.
We will always remember him as an activist for people with disabilities. This is a sad time for Canadians with disabilities and their families.
We are grateful to our government of Canada and to all the services people with disabilities can get like the Registered Disability Savings Plan and much more.
I am proud to be Canadian.
Canada will miss you and so will people with diverse abilities.
From: Krystian Shaw
Jim Flaherty remembered at state funeral