New Resource: Guide to the DTC and RDSP for Newcomers with Disabilities

This new guide is the result of a partnership between Disability Alliance BC, Plan Institute, and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

It is designed to help frontline workers in settlement agencies and advocates introduce newcomers with disabilities to both the Disability Tax Credit and Registered Disability Saving Plan, explain the benefits of these programs, the eligibility criteria, and to guide them through the process, if and where needed.

Download the PDF in English and French:

Read it online in flipbook format here in English and French:

Call for Disability Tax Credit Fee Stories!

Everyone should be talking about barriers to the DTC!

Our Access RDSP advocates have heard from many clients about the financial barriers that have made it more difficult for them to apply for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Barriers to the DTC (and, by extension, the RDSP contribute to poverty amongst the disability community in BC. We continue to advocate for the removal of these barriers.

While applying for the Disability Tax Credit, if you dealt with:

– A fee from your medical practitioner that you couldn’t afford

– A company that charged you an application fee or percentage of your return

We want to hear from you! You can reach us by email at, or by phone at 1-800-663-1278 to share your story.

If you haven’t applied for the Disability Tax Credit, and you would like help, contact us the same way.

Why Connecting Patients with DTC/RDSP Matters: A Physician's Perspective

By Dr. Gary Bloch

A 48 year old with multiple sclerosis, a 24 year old with leukemia, an 18 year old with Down’s Syndrome, a 35 year old with recurrent bouts of severe depression.  These are all patients of mine, each one with a unique story, each one working hard to improve their health and standard of living despite their disability.  And each one has a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). 

I am a family physician, not a financial advisor.  My training prepared me to deal with MI, RA, MDD and CRF – not EI, CPP, DTC, or RDSP.  But years of working with people who experience disability, and most of whom live in poverty and without secure housing, have convinced me that I must address their social situations directly to improve their health.  Conversations about “treating poverty” through accessing income supports have expanded to the inclusion of a Social Determinants of Health Committee and income security specialists in my family health team. 

At the foundation of my work on addressing poverty, however, lies a basic intervention: connect my patients with the income support systems that will improve their income security, and that will prevent them from falling into deeper poverty.  The disability income security system in Canada is large and complex, but there are certain key benefits that require a physician’s input to access.  These include provincial social assistance disability support programs, Canada Pension Plan-Disability, and the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). 

We see applications for these programs on a regular basis.  What we often don’t recognize, however, are the programs people with confirmed disability qualify for that can have a major impact on income and life security.  One of the most important, and under-accessed, of these programs is the RDSP.  Like an RRSP, but for people with disabilities, this program allows individuals living with disabilities to save money for the future and to access heavy government subsidies.  Any individual who qualifies for the DTC can open a RDSP. 

While some outreach has been done by government and disability advocacy organizations, many people living with disabilities have no idea RDSPs exist.  This is where front line health providers can play a huge role in guiding their patients to this program.  First, complete an application for the DTC.  Once qualified, advise patients to open a RDSP.  Very low income patients can access large grants to build their savings.  People able to contribute their own funds can access up to a 300% match in government funds. 

We often find ourselves caught up in the day-to-day struggles of our patients who live with disabilities.  But we can also enable our patients to look to and plan for their futures.  Approaching middle and older age with a disability and no financial security will decrease health and wellbeing.  Disability income support programs, and especially forward-looking, subsidized savings programs like the RDSP, offer stress relief, security, and ultimately increased hope for a comfortable future. 


Gary Bloch is a family physician with St. Michael’s Hospital and Inner City Health Associates, and an Associate Professor with the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. 

Gary created the Poverty Tool with the Centre of Effective Practice, which is designed to guide primary health care providers in income interventions: 

Use the DTC tool for your client’s applications: 

For financial planning tools, including Financial Benefits Navigator: 

For the RDSP calculator: .