Update to the Gifts and Assets Limit Initiative

May 2017

We are very happy to say that after over a year of hard work educating and informing policy makers and politicians, in April 2017 the Government of Ontario announced changes to the gift and asset limits of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

  • The asset limit which had been $5,000 as of January 2018 will be $40,000.
  • The voluntary gift and payment limit which had been $6,000 in a 12-month period as of September 2018 will be $10,000 in a 12-month period.  

While we are grateful for any improvements made to our social security system and we hope that the progress towards improving the lives of persons with disabilities in Ontario continues. 

We had hoped for higher limits. Our goal was to see an asset limit of $100,000 and unlimited gift limits so we will continue to work, together with the Government, towards this change in the months to come.

Thanks to all the Coalition supporter, our collective voice was what enabled this change.


Gifts and Assets Ontario

Supporting Financial Security for People with Disabilities in Ontario

Why  asset and gift limits need to continue to be reviewed? 


We appreciate the April 2017 changes to the asset and gift limits for persons receiving disability benefits in Ontario, their needs to be additional changes because even the new limits:

  • Keep annual income for persons with disabilities below the poverty line or low-income cut-off (LICO) thresholds,
  • Fail to leverage the individual wealth of families,
  • Keep individuals and families dependent on support programs such as the Ministry of Community and Social Services Passport Program,
  • Negatively impact quality of life for persons on ODSP in Ontario,
  • Restrict access to resources in times of crisis and emergency,
  • Prevent persons with disabilities in Ontario from becoming full economic citizens.


Poverty continues to be the primary barrier to an accessible Ontario? 


Until people with disabilities are able to lift themselves out of the systemically imposed poverty, Ontario will never be an accessible province.

Quick facts on disability and poverty in Ontario

  • As of May 2016 there were 340,497 ODSP cases (single or family units receiving ODSP) and 468,398 beneficiaries.[1]
  • A single recipient of ODSP can receive up to a maximum of $1,110 each month.[2]
  • The benefit and asset limits related to ODSP have steadily declined over the past two decades when measured against inflation.[3]
  • In 2014, the average expenditure for shelter in Ontario was $1,617 per month, and the average expenditure for food was $675 per month.[4]
  • ODSP was cut by 21% in 1995 and rates were frozen until 2003. While there have been marginal increases, these have not kept pace with rising food or housing costs – ODSP would require a 25% increase in the rate a single person receives to be worth what it was in 1994.[5]
  • In Toronto, the average length of time people with disabilities frequent food banks has increased since 2008, to an average of three years.[6]
  • 51% of Toronto-area food bank users have a disability.[7]
  • 19% of food bank users who frequented a food bank in the last six months or less reported disability as their main reason for doing so.[8]
  • More than twice the number of adults with developmental disabilities lived in the poorest neighbourhoods than in the wealthiest neighbourhoods [9]


The precedent has already been set


  • There is no limit on payments made from a recipient’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (“RDSP”) – see section 43(1)15.6 of the Regulation. The Ministry of Community and Social Services made a conscious decision in 2008 to allow recipients to access unlimited funds from their RDSPs in order to enhance their quality of life. Voluntary gifts and payments from family members, friends and trusts would serve substantially the same purpose; the difference being that RDSP payments cannot typically be accessed until much later in the person’s life, whereas payments from supporters and trusts can be accessed at any time.


  • On November 5, 2015, the Government of British Columbia announced an increase to the asset limit from $5,000 to $100,000 ($200,000 for a couple) and completely removed the limit on voluntary gifts and payments. Asset limits of $100,000 were established in Alberta several years ago. 


Why should people receiving ODSP benefits be able to receive gifts and hold assets?

Poverty, Food Security, Housing, Vulnerability, Community

  • Many people are under the assumption that support programs like ODSP provide for all a person’s immediate needs, but this is not the case. ODSP keeps people with disabilities living on or below the poverty line. Additionally there are many basic needs not met through ODSP that are currently heavily subsidized by family members. These include:
    • Safe and accessible housing;
    • Adequate and healthy foods;
    • Needed accessibility and adaptive devices;
    • Transportation related needs and costs;
    • Fee-for-service disability related supports;
    • Clothing and recreation expenses etc.
  • The fact remains that families are already subsidizing a tremendous amount of services and supports for their disabled family members, including those on ODSP. A majority of persons with intellectual disabilities in Canada reside either in a family home with parents (38% compared with 18% of the general population) or with family members (6% compared with 4% of the general population).
  • The existing asset limits ignores the necessary and ongoing support families provide and ensures individuals with disabilities are poorer, more vulnerable, further marginalized once members of these important support systems pass away.
  • ODSP keeps people with disabilities below the poverty line. For many being able to hold more assets does not equal more extravagant lifestyles but rather the ability to secure safe and accessible housing, avoid reliance on food banks, and purchase necessary disability supports and adaptive equipment. Just like their non-disabled peers, having the means to do these things prevents crisis, promotes greater autonomy, and decreases reliance on already strained public funds.
  • Many people with disabilities currently live in homes that have been adapted to their needs. They live in neighbourhoods and communities where they are valued and belong. Strict asset limits mean that when loved ones pass on, they cannot leave behind a nest egg or any savings to ensure the person with the disability can continue to live in their homes and communities. This separates people from their natural supports systems and communities, strips away individual choice, and moves people towards more institutional and less autonomous living arrangements. 
  • It doesn’t make financial sense for the Province of Ontario to uphold policies that create greater crisis and more reliance on public supports in an already strained support system.


[1] Crawford, C. (2008) No Place Like Home: A Report on the Housing Needs of People with Intellectual Disabilities. Canadian Association for Community Living.

Change for Better Financial Futures

Coalition for Change to the Disability Gifts and Assets Limits

The Coalition for Change to the Disability Gifts and Assets Limits is comprised of organizations and individuals from the family arm of the disability movement in Ontario and our friends and allies from across Canada. It also includes supporting commercial organizations, financial institutions and other invested parties.

We understands that there is a connection between poverty alleviation and the provision of disability supports. We believe the changes to gifts and assets will help ensure that Ontarions receiving disability benefits can support financial security and provide poverty relief without burdening the government’s treasury.

We are calling on members of the Government of Ontario to make the necessary regulatory changes as soon as possible.

Join our Coalition for Change to the Disability Gifts and Assets Limits

Advisors to the Gifts and Assets Level Limit Change


Helen Ries, sibling caregiver and Consultant is the Coalition’s primary organizer.

The Coalition’s advisors have contributed their invaluable insights and expertise to this initiative, either through active participation in authorship, review and support.

Jihan Abbas, PhD Community Researcher and Consultant

Tim Ames, Executive Director of PLAN & PLAN Institute

Sean Moore, Founder and Principal of Advocacy School

Jack Pearpoint, President at Inclusion Press

Brendon Pooran, Principal lawyer at Pooran Law 

Brian Tardif, Executive Director of Citizen Advocacy

Who is supporting the Change


We are grateful to acknowledge the strong support of community organizations and individuals across Ontario and Canada.

If you would like to add your organization to the gallery below, please contact info@gifts-assets.ca




Anchor Association


Autism Ontario

Brantwood Community Services

Bruce Peninsula Association for Community Living

Bruce Shoreline Self-Advocate

Canadian Down Syndrome Society 

Causeway Work Centre

Centre 454 

Citizen Advocacy Ottawa

Community Living Access Support Services

Community Living Algoma 

Community Living Belleville and Area

Community Living Chatham-Kent

Community Living Essex County

Community Living Fort Frances and District

Community Living Kincardine & District

Community Living Mississauga

Community Living Ontario

Community Living Owen Sound and District

Community Living Parry Sound

Community Living Prince Edward

Community Living Stratford and Area

Community Living York South 

Community Living Walkerton and District

Cornerstone – Housing for Women

Cornwall & District Family Support Group

Daily Bread Food Bank

DeafBlind Ontario Services

Developing and Nurturing Independence (DANI) 

Disability Inclusion Advocacy Network of Eastern Ontario

Families Matter Co-op

First United Church 

Give Pain A Voice

Home of Their Own

Hutton House

Inclusion Press

Invictus Advocacy


Marsha Forest Centre

Mental Illness Caregivers Association

Mood Disorders Association of Ontario

OM21 (Opportunities Mississauga for 21+)

Ottawa Kosher Food Bank

Partners for Planning 

People First Ontario 

PLAN – Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network

PLAN Institute 

South-East Grey Support Services


The Anglican Diocese of Ottawa

The “Special Needs” Planning Group

The Well / La Source

Academics and Community Activists


Jihan Abbas, PhD, Community Researcher and Consultant

Josée Boulanger, PhD Candidate, University of Ottawa

Al Etmanski, OC, Co-Founder of PLAN – Planned Lifetime Advocacy Networks and Co-founder of Social innovation Generation (SiG)

Catherine Frazee, OC, D.Litt., LLD. (Hon.)
Professor Emerita, Ryerson University School of Disability Studies

Ravi Malhotra, SJD, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Anna Przednowek, PhD Candidate, School of Social Work,Carleton University

Helen Ries, MBA, Community Activist and Consultant

Kristen Snoddon, PhD, Assistant Professor, Carleton University

Donna Thomson, Disability and family caregiving activist, consultant and author

Elisabeth Harrison, PhD Candidate, Critical Disability Studies, York University

Self-advocates, family members, friends and allies of the Disability Movement 


Alton Adams, Newmarket, Ontario

Linda Allen, Toronto, Ontario

Mary Allen, Ottawa, Ontario

Diane Anderson, Oakville, Ontario

Natalie Annett, Burlington, Ontario

Andrew Ansell, Owen Sound, Ontario

Audrey Apps, Toronto, Ontario

Rachael Arnold, Port Elgin, Ontario

Gay Ashdown, Port Elgin, Ontario


Amy Baskin, M.Ed., Guelph, Ontario

Cindy Bates, Peterborough, Ontario

Teresa and Don Bazeley, Timmins, Ontario

Karen Beatty, Oshawa, Ontario

Morgan Beatty, Ottawa, Ontario

Susan Beayni, Ottawa, Ontario

Danella Beerda-Morgan, Smith Falls, Ontario

Shelley Bellamy, Port Elgin, Ontario

Patricia Benoit, Brownsville, Ontario

Roland Bergman

Carole D Behrens, Windsor, Ontario

Carla Bergmann, Mississauga, Ontario

Margaret Binkle, Mississauga, Ontario

Heidi Blackburn, Oakville,Ontario

Drina Blair, Toronto, Ontario

Cathy Bloomfield, Oshawa, Ontario

Kathryn Bloomfield, Mulmur, Ontario

Kathryn Bloomfield, Mulmur, Ontario

Lara Bober, Ottawa, Ontario

Jessica Bolduc, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Paul Bombaci, Port Perry, Ontario

Brenda Bradley, Oakville, Ontario

Diana Brammall, London, Ontario

Britany Brammal, Ridgetown, Ontario

Karen Branford, Owen Sound, Ontario

Kylie Brooks, Toronto, Ontario

Trixie Brown, Brampton, Ontario

Penny Brueckman-Stephens, Owen Sound, Ontario

Peter Bullen, Mississauga, Ontario


Heather Campbell, Aurora, Ontario

Frances Dunn Caron, Orleans, Ontario

David Candido, Toronto, Ontario

Nadia Candido, Toronto, Ontario

Karen Carney, Toronto, Ontario

Doug Cartan, Mallorytown, Ontario

Mary Casagrande, Toronto, Ontario

Nermin Champsi, Thornhill, Ontario

Annie Chiu, Richmond Hill, Ontario

Iwona Chudyk, St. Catherines, Ontario

Karen Clark, Mississauga, Ontario

Sophie Cook, Toronto, Ontario

Dianne Copping, Lakecield, Ontario

Lise Côté, Rockland, Ontario

Helene Courchesne, Ottawa, Ontario

Marleen Crawford, Windsor, Ontario

Ann Cross

Tina Crouse, Ottawa, Ontario


Lorraine Davies, Matachewan, Ontario

Debbie Desjardins, Windsor, Ontario

Debbie & Ralph De Pinto, Richmond Hill, Ontario

Joan Deakin, Richmond Hill, Ontario

Marilyn Dolmage, Toronto, Ontario

Katie Dorman, Toronto, Ontario

John Dowson, Newmarket, Ontario

Annette Dufresne, Windsor, Ontario

Elizabeth Durance, Sarnia, Ontario


Katharine Elliott, Ottawa, Ontario

Zenobia Etienn, Toronto, Ontario

Trisha Evans, Barrie, Ontario

Joe Evers, Oakville, Ontario

Sandy Evers, Oakville, Ontario

Lisa Figge, Kingston, Ontario

Susan Fishman, Toronto, Ontario

Cheryl Ford, Toronto, Ontario

Miriam Fox, Oakville, Ontario

Ryan Gain, Hamilton, Ontario

John Gall, Ottawa, Ontario

Timothy Garrod, Port Elgin, Ontario

Rhoda Gelbard, Thornhill, Ontario

Karen Genereaux, Cannifton, Ontario

Stephen Gold, Toronto, Ontario

Eric Goll, Acton, Ontario

Dianna K. Goneau Inkster, Kingston, Ontario

Joanna Goode, Erin, Ontario

Rev. Linda Goonewardene, Ottawa, Ontario

Erika Govas, Ottawa, Ontario

Suzanne Grant, Oakville, Ontario

Sandra Gray, Mallorytown, Ontario

Samantha Green, Toronto, Ontario

Maureen Gmitrowicz, Whitby, Ontario


Scott Hadley, Aurora, Ontario

Lisa Hallman, Oshawa, Ontario

Susan Hanson, Etobicoke, Ontario

Jo-Anne Harris-Kuhar, Sauble Beach, Ontario

Christy Heenan, Mississauga, Ontario

Angela Henderson, Ottawa, Ontario

Erinne Henry, Toronto, Ontario

Kathene Henry, Whitby, Ontario

Sharita Henry, Waterloo, Ontario

Gordon Higuchi, Mississauga, Ontario

Leanne Hopkins, Owen Sound, Ontario

Isabel Horvath, Brantford, Ontario

Andy Hubbard, Port Elgin, Ontario

August Huttinger, Toronto, Ontario

Vanessa Huizinga, Toronto, Ontario

JoAnne Hurst, Dundas, Ontario



Teresa Jeffery, South River, Ontario

Terri Johnston, Port Elgin, Ontario

Andrea Johnson-Thomas, Toronto, Ontario

Chuck Jolliffe, Schomberg, Ontario

Betty Jong, Mississauga, Ontario

Rita Kerkmann, Mississauga, Ontario

Heather Kerr, Windsor, Ontario

Antoinette Kirby, Wooler, Ontario

Melanie Kitchen, Oshawa, Ontario

Steven Klein, Vaughan, Ontario


Ellen Lang, Desboro, Ontario

Karen Lara, Ottawa, Ontario

Kathy Laszlo, Thornhill, Ontario

Helena Lazowski, Mississauga, Ontario

Gemma Lee, Mississauga, Ontario

Ann Lenchak, Toronto, Ontario

John Levasseur, Oakville, Ontario

Mary-Frances Levasseur, Oakville, Ontario

Linda Lister, Cornwall, Ontario

Gillian Litvin, Thornhill, Ontario

Biserka Livaja, Toronto, Ontario

Catherine Loucks, Owen Sound

André Loyer, Ottawa, Ontario

Janet Lorimer, Mississauga, Ontario

Adrian Luces, Toronto, Ontario

Eberhard Lurz, Toronto, Ontario

Edwin Lynch, Cambridge, Ontario


Sandy Macpherson, Ottawa, Ontario

Tom Mahoney, Burlington, Ontario

Lucy Manchester M.D., Toronto, Ontario

Jan Marshall, Toronto, Ontario

Meredith McAsh, Owen Sound, Ontario

Laura McCallum, Toronto, Ontario

Michael McCallum, Oakville, Ontario

Vicki McCallum, Oakville, Ontario

Ken McCarthy, Windsor, Ontario

Ann McConnell, Burlington, Ontario

Bonnie McCourt, Kincardine, Ontario

Jackie Mcdonald, Kincardine, Ontario

Paul McGinnis, Nepean, Ontario

Sandra McManaman, Owen Sound, Ontario

David McMillan, Port Elgin, Ontario

Cindy McPhedran, Harrow, Ontario

Jennifer McSporran, Ottawa, Ontario

Lisa Mikolich, Vineland, Ontario

Leah Miltchin, Pickering, Ontario

Cindy Mitchell, Whitby, Ontario

Colleen Mitchell, Windsor, Ontario

Susan Montague, Barrie, Ontario

Alena Moravcova, Ottawa, Ontario

Sandra Mothersell, Durham, Ontario

Marilyn Morawetz, Hampton, Ontario

Virginia Morris, Owen Sound, Ontario

Elaine Murphy, Ottawa, Ontario

Alison & Peter Myers, Mississauga, Ontario


Pat & Bruce Newland, Queensville, Ontario

Michelle O’Brien, Mississauga, Ontario

Cathy Olsen, Ottawa, Ontario

Guy Palumbo, Woodbridge, Ontario

Brenda Parris, Toronto, Ontario

Julie Pilger, Port Elgin, Ontario

Jack Pearpoint, Toronto, Ontario

Jordan Pedersen, Wellington County, Ontario

Jenny Perry, Courtice, Ontario

Rita & Stan Peters, Embrun, Ontario

Michael Parris, Thames Centre, Ontario

Melissa Pettigrew, Port Elgin, Ontario

Isabelle Philipps, Etobicoke, Ontario

Lisa Plaice, Port Elgin, Ontario

Andrea Podruski, Ottawa, Ontario

Paul Popper, Newmarket, Ontario

Susan Popper, Newmarket, Ontario

Amber Porter, Windsor, Ontario

Elliette Portal-Stanley, Toronto, Ontario

Doris Power, Toronto, Ontario

Robert Power, Hanover, Ontario

Cheryl Prince, Merlin, Ontario


Robyn Quint, Thornhill, Ontario

Eva Rangno, Ottawa, Ontario

Rick Rangno, Ottawa, Ontario

Ursula Rehdner, Richmond Hill, Ontario

Terri Rennie, Burlington, Ontario

Hamid Riaz, Mississauga, Ontario

Deborah Ricci, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Angela Richard, Port Elgin, Ontario

Donna Rietschlin, Ottawa, Ontario

Carol Ripley, Pembroke, Ontario

Carlyle Rodrigo, Toronto, Ontario

Teresa Rose, Tara, Ontario

Elena Rozenberg, Maple, Ontario


Nesrin Sabha, Toronto, Ontario

Kevin Samson, Gilmour, Ontario

Alison Sandeman, Ottawa, Ontario

Gail Saperia, Thornhill, Ontario

Shawna Schank, Owen Sound, Ontario

E. Schild, Thornhill, Ontario

Monica Schmidt, Oakville, Ontario

Faye  Schofield, Oshawa, Ontario

Tim Sinke, Mississauga, Ontario

Tanya Sizer, Hamilton, Ontario

Shaida Shirazi, Brampton, Ontario

Sue Skinner, Owen Sound, Ontario

William Slot,Freedom 55 Financial, Owen Sound, Ontario

Marnie Slumskie, Durham, Ontario

Marja Smellink, Iroquois, Ontario

Cheryl Smethurst, Southhampton, Ontario

Sylvia Smith, Ottawa, Ontario

Virginia Smith, Owen Sound, Ontario

Kristine Snider, Chatsworth, Ontario

Lisa Stephenson, Oakville, Ontario

Lindsay Stevenson, Toronto, Ontario

Charlene Stewart, Ontario

Frances Stewart, Burlington, Ontario

Daniel G Strickland, Waterloo, Ontario

Harold and Linda Swartz, Toronto, Ontario

Hassan Syed, Mississauga, Ontario

Patricia Symons, Toronto, Ontario


Bill Targett, Markham, Ontario

Emily Taylor-King, Ottawa, Ontario

Dave Tih, Toronto, Ontario

Jason Tomesch, Waterloo, Ontario

Charles Tossell, Sudbury, Ontario

Mike Town, Listowel, Ontario

Terry-Lynn Trelford, Southhampton, Ontario

Kurt Turchan, Ottawa, Ontario


Sonya Van Driel, Welland, Ontario

Milena Vankova, Toronto, Ontario

Lyn Veitch, Listowel, Ontario

Linda Viscardis, Peterborough, Ontario

Martha Vukov, Windsor, Ontario

Sue Walters, Aurora, Ontario

Steve Ward, Napanee, Ontario

Eleanor Werner, Oshawa, Ontario

Devin Wiles, Toronto, Ontario

Nanda Wubs, Winchester, Ontario

S. Wuerch, Windsor, Ontario


Eric Yau, Toronto, Ontario

Esther Yermus, Toronto, Ontario

Gord Zajac, Halton Hills, Ontario

Mehri Zareie, Richmond Hill, Ontario

Beata Ziolkowski, Ottawa, Ontario


Aleah, Hamilton, Ontario

Alice, Ottawa, Ontario

Catherine, Scarborough, Ontario

Colleen, Toronto, Ontario

Darlene, Toronto, Ontario

Delia, Oakville, Ontario

Donna, Belle River, Ontario

Fay, Toronto, Ontario

Heather, Barrie, Ontario

Jill, Elmira, Ontario

Lisa, London, Ontario

Racheal, Peterborough, Ontario

Tisha, Toronto, Ontario

Denise, Toronto, Ontario

Vanessa, Toronto, Ontario

Melissa, Hamilton, Ontario

Chris, Mississauga, Ontario

How you can help

Coalition for Change to the Disability Gifts and Assets Limits

Firstly, THANK YOU for thinking to help us with this initiative. We need your help. This is what you can do:


1. Ask your organization to join our Coalition. If you belong to a disability, mental health or poverty group in your city or Ontario, please ask them to join our Coalition. Organizations reaching out to their membership about the Gifts and Assets initiative is really helpful and gives us more power when speaking with the government.


2. Join our Coalition as an individual.  We need your name there to show the Government of Ontario how many people want this change. Join the Coalition


3. Talk to your MPP. We can support you to set up a meeting, give you talking points for your meeting and material to present once you have a meeting date set. If you want our help please contact us by email info@gifts-assets.ca