Why This Matters
This issue is most relevant to people who have a developmental disability and who may, in some situations, be deemed to lack the capacity to enter into a legal agreement or to make a legal decision. There are many situations where this may occur.
Opening a bank account
Signing a lease on an apartment
Purchasing a mobile plan
Making medical decisions
Acquiring or updating a health card or passport
Dealing with CRA and tax returns
Hiring a support worker
Applying for a credit card
Opening an RDSP
In Ontario today, the only option for addressing these issues legally is for someone, usually a parent, sibling or another family member to apply for guardianship. This means the person must relinquish ALL LEGAL RIGHTS. The person in essence loses their legal personhood as the guardian has legal rights over all aspects of their life.
In British Columbia, this does not happen. A person with a disability, with the support of their family or friends, is able to identify a person or persons to support them around decisions and issues like those listed above. It’s called Supported Decision Making and is a legal alternative that allows a person to receive support around a variety of legal issues and to maintain their legal rights.
We have a precedent for this type of support in Ontario with the Ontario Disability Support Program where the person with a disability can officially appoint another person to act on their behalf with respect to ODSP issues.
The notion that an adult with a disability must relinquish their complete legal autonomy to simply access a federal program – opening an RDSP account - that all Canadians are entitled to is difficult to understand or accept. As of 2023, that will be the case in Ontario.