Proposed AISH Act Changes Allow Financial Security

New legislation would ensure that parents and guardians have more options to plan for the long-term financial needs of family members with disabilities.

Minister Sabir with families of Albertans with disabilities and advocates speaking to the introduction of Bill 5: Act to Strengthen Financial Security for Persons with Disabilities.

If passed, The Act to Strengthen Financial Security for Persons with Disabilities would amend current Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) legislation to allow families, guardians and AISH recipients to set up trusts to provide for persons with disabilities without negatively affecting a person’s eligibility for the AISH program. This would allow persons with disabilities eligibility for the living allowance, child benefit and personal benefits under the AISH program, while also allowing families and Albertans with disabilities to plan for their futures.

“All Albertans should be able to plan for their children’s future. This legislation would allow all Albertans and their families the time and security to plan for their children’s financial future.”

~Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services

Currently, the asset rules on trusts are unclear and penalize some families looking to provide for their children. Existing policy allows for an exemption of non-discretionary trusts as an asset on a case-by-case basis, but if a person with a disability holds a discretionary trust asset, regardless of whether they are receiving payments from that trust, they are ineligible for AISH. The proposed legislation would open options for Alberta families and provide clarity by exempting both discretionary and non-discretionary trusts as assets when determining eligibility for AISH.

“The love and care that parents and guardians have for their children with disabilities extends throughout their life and beyond. This bill would solve a long-standing problem that was brought to my attention by the community. I heard loud and clear from parents, self-advocates and community stakeholders during my consultations that they want to ensure continuity of care for their children after they are gone. This bill would make life better for people with disabilities and their families.”

~Brian Malkinson, MLA Calgary-Currie

Under the proposed legislation, a one-year grace period would come into effect to allow people time to move an inheritance or other lump sum payment into a trust or other exempt asset. This would allow an AISH applicant/recipient or their cohabiting partner adequate time to make financial decisions instead of immediately becoming ineligible for AISH.

“The most universal and persistent fear on the mind of every parent is, what will happen to my son or daughter with developmental disabilities when I’m no longer here. If passed, this act would enable parents to sleep a little more soundly knowing they can provide some future security for their child with disabilities.”

~Bruce Uditsky, Inclusion Alberta CEO, and parent of an adult son with developmental disabilities

“This legislation could provide Albertans with disabilities greater financial and economic security. If it is passed, it will provide opportunity and flexibility for individuals and families to plan into the future with less stress and worry about the loss of benefits. Vecova is pleased the voice of people with disabilities and their families was honoured through the public consultations. We applaud the support shown for Brian Malkinson’s original proposal and that it has continued to grow.”

~Joan Lee, Vecova CEO

“As a parent of a disabled daughter, I have faced disturbing uncertainty to think she might lose AISH as we try to secure her financial future. Any assurance that a disabled child will continue to receive AISH, uninterrupted, is greeted by me as welcome news. It will allow us to plan and provide a better, more inclusive life, well into the future and after we are gone.”

~Frances Urtasun, mother of an adult daughter with a disability

Quick facts

  • The AISH program provides a living allowance, health benefits, and supplementary benefits to eligible adult Albertans with a permanent disability.
  • Close to 60,000 Albertans receive AISH benefits.
  • The treatment of trust income is not changing and may affect the level of an AISH client’s monthly living allowance.
  • An applicant’s age, residency, financial and medical situation are considered when determining eligibility for the AISH program.
  • The amount of the monthly living allowance an AISH client receives depends on any other income they or their spouse/partner have.

Listen to the news conference