The organizers: Lillian Bayne and Michael Hayes
The pitch: Creating Action RDSP
The reason: To raise awareness about the Registered Disability Savings Plan
Lillian Bayne and her husband Michael Hayes know all too well the anxiety parents of a disabled child often feel about their finances.
Ms. Bayne’s sister was born with a developmental disability and the couple’s son has cognitive impairments. Ms. Bayne and Dr. Hayes have been involved in the public-health sector for years and both have taught courses at the University of Victoria’s school of public health and social policy.
Ever since the federal government created the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) in 2008, Ms. Bayne and Dr. Hayes have been huge advocates of the program, which is designed to help disabled people save for the future.
The program is similar to an RRSP, but it also includes grants from the federal government of up to $3,500 a year, or $70,000 lifetime, and additional financial aid for low-income earners.
Ms. Bayne said less than one-third of Canadians who qualify for an RDSP have opened an account because the application process can be time-consuming.
“It’s very complicated and requires you to have your financial records and all kinds of stuff, and a lot of people just don’t have the wherewithal,” she said from the couple’s home in Victoria.
Ms. Bayne and Dr. Hayes, who opened RDSPs for their son and Ms. Bayne’s sister, spent years trying to raise awareness about the plan. In 2021, they got help from Ms. Bayne’s father, Ronald Bayne.
Just before he died, Dr. Bayne donated $150,000 to the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island to launch Action RDSP. With support from the Vancouver Island Health Authority and Disability Alliance BC, Action RDSP has hired a community engagement officer who works with families and care providers to provide guidance on how to open an RDSP.
“It’s about developing that trust between a group of professionals who have to sign these forms and the person who is saying ‘Yes,’ ” said Ms. Bayne, who is on Action RDSP’s steering committee with her husband.
The couple hope to expand the program and reach more Canadians. “We want to take it national,” Dr. Hayes said. “We want to start a wildfire across the entire country. "