Supreme Court of Canada Decision Benefits Individuals on AISH

January 25, 2019
The Supreme Court of Canada, in its first ever consideration of discretionary (Henson) trusts, in the case of S.A. vs Metro Vancouver Housing Cooperation (MVHC) affirmed the essence of these trusts to the relief of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families across the country. Henson trusts are typically established by parents to provide some degree of future financial security for their children with developmental disabilities after parents pass away. Individuals with developmental disabilities, given limitations to some being able to work and the lack of employment opportunities for many more, are seriously disadvantaged in terms of income and thus at significant risk when parents are no longer alive to provide support.

Trish Bowman, Inclusion Alberta CEO, noted, “It was only in 2018 that the Alberta government finally joined the rest of Canada by amending its legislation so that trusts established for persons eligible for AISH would no longer be clawed back but would be protected to benefit individuals with disabilities, as families intended. And more recently AISH benefits were increased and indexed. These decisions were warmly welcomed and very much appreciated by individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.”

However, Alberta still severely restricts the amount of monthly income that individuals with disabilities can benefit from through a trust. Currently, an individual on AISH can earn up to $1072 of net income before their AISH income is reduced but individuals who are not working can only be provided with $300 a month from a trust before their AISH is reduced. This seriously disadvantages those who cannot work or are unable to secure employment given the lack of opportunity. For example, the provincial government, one of our province’s largest employers, employs only a handful of individuals with developmental disabilities.   

Barb MacIntyre, Inclusion Alberta President and the parent of an adult son with developmental disabilities, stated, “We are calling upon the provincial government, at minimum, to raise the monthly benefit an individual on AISH can receive through a discretionary trust to $500 a month and then at age 50 for the amount to be equal to that permitted through employment income. Increasing the amount of income permitted through a discretionary trust to $500 per month would be equivalent to the increase the province provided for employment income. We would also, of course, love for the provincial government to be an exemplary leader in the employment of individuals with developmental disabilities.” 
To arrange interviews about this Supreme Court decision, please contact:
Jeff Samsonow
Communications Coordinator, Inclusion Alberta
780-451-3055 ext. 422