NLIS 1
October 26, 2001
(Human Resources and Employment)

 

Changes in legislation benefit people living with disability

Gerald Smith, Minister of Human Resources and Employment, and Julie Bettney, Minister of Health and Community Services, today announced that appropriate legislative and policy changes will be made to allow for the establishment of support trusts by family members on behalf of adults with disabilities. These changes will allow support trusts to be exempted when determining eligibility for social assistance and supportive services.

Minister Smith made the announcement this morning at the Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living Annual General Meeting and Conference in Corner Brook. "This decision represents a continuation of government’s longstanding commitment to ensuring that persons with disabilities have the opportunity to be full and active members of their community, with the appropriate supports in place to ensure an independent lifestyle," said Minister Smith. "It also reflects government’s ongoing willingness to partner with families, community agencies and persons living with a disability to find ways to cooperate on fostering these goals."

Support trusts provide an innovative way for families and government to work together to maximize the support available for adults with a disability residing in the community. Families, whose adult children are in receipt of programs and services such as social assistance and home support services, can now establish a support trust up to a maximum of $100,000 without the services received by adult children with a disability being affected. Previously, money set aside in trust for a family member living with a disability was classified as a liquid asset and influenced a client’s eligibility for government supports.

"An exemption for support trusts when determining eligibility for government supports will allow families to provide for the future of their adult children who have a disability," said Minister Bettney. "The trust will help offset additional costs associated with living with a disability such as communications devices, renovations, vehicle modification and other special needs which cannot be provided through programs offered by Human Resources and Employment and Health and Community Services."

Key community partners including the Association for Community Living, Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, the Independent Living Resource Centre and the Consumer Health Awareness Network participated with the Departments of Human Resources and Employment, Health and Community Services and Justice in the development of this policy decision.

Helen O'Rourke, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living, expressed her association’s satisfaction with government’s decision to introduce a support trust exemption. "Today’s announcement is greeted with pleasure by families representing adults with disabilities. It provides families with the assurance that they have been seeking that their adult children who have a disability will continue to be cared for throughout their lives."

"This latest announcement comes as good news for the disabled community," said Mary Reid of the Independent Living Resource Centre. "Some people who have disabilities will have greater opportunities to succeed in both a professional and social capacity knowing they have additional long-term financial support from families and caregivers."

"This government has made a commitment to being accountable and most of all responsive to the economic and social needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is reflected in Government’s Strategic Social Plan and the Renewal Strategy for Jobs and Growth," said Minister Smith. "This latest initiative reflects this commitment and reaffirms Newfoundland and Labrador as a true leader in community development and inclusion, especially for people living with a disability."

Backgrounder

Support Trusts Exemption

  • Government has approved the necessary regulatory changes recommended by the Departments of Human Resources and Employment and Health and Community Services to exempt support trusts when determining eligibility for social assistance and supportive services for people living with a disability.

  • A support trust is a trust fund established (usually by families) on behalf of an adult with a disability who requires supportive services. In order to have a trust fund considered a support trust, the trust fund is to be used to help offset the exceptional costs associated with living with a disability, such as special clothing, communications devices, renovations and vehicle modification, etc. that cannot be provided through programs offered by the Departments of Human Resources and Employment and Health and Community Services.

  • Previously, support trusts would be classified as a resource that would effect a client’s eligibility for government services such as social assistance and home support. Providing an exemption of up to $100,000 for support trusts, families can now establish a trust fund without affecting the eligibility for basic financial and other supportive services a person with a disability currently receives from government.

  • Since support trusts are usually created as a result of life insurance or from the sale of property, a maximum exemption of $100,000 is considered a reasonable amount that can be placed in a trust without affecting eligibility for financial support from government.

  • Policies will require that a set amount from the support trust must be used annually for the purposes intended on behalf of the beneficiary.

  • Where an adult with a disability moves from an independent living arrangement to a personal care/community care home, the policy will require the support trust exemption to be reduced to a maximum of $25,000, and in the case of a nursing home facility, the support trust exemption will cease to exist.

  • To ensure support trusts are used for their intended purposes, the trustee, usually a family member or other identified person, will be required to maintain records outlining the financial situation of the trust and report to the agency providing financial support on an annual basis.

  • The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to consult with key stakeholders and advocacy groups as changes to legislation, regulations and policy become finalized.

Media contact: Paul Power, Communications, (709) 729-4062.

2001 10 26                               8:45 a.m. 


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