When I started Mirella Muses my intention was to provide a variety of information to disabled individuals; I have to admit that I don’t know everything about the disabled community that I am a part of, that is why I make Mirella Muses  available to individuals who are experts in certain areas.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting with a gentleman that assists individuals with disabilities and their families apply for the Registered Disability Savings Plan.   In an effort to Enlighten Engage and Empower; I would like to introduce you to Steven Williams, RDSP Specialist; the following is his blog post for this edition of Mirella Muses.

Why do we do this when the compensation is, what some would call meager it is simple. It must be done for everyone that has a Disability Tax Credit, especially for those that are on provincial Income Support so that their retirement can hopefully be more comfortable.  Some have asked why I am so passionate about this program.  My response is as follows:

I have really good friends that wondered what the RDSP was as their son has Autism and asked me to look into it further.  I researched it for 3 months to make sure that I understood all of the ins and outs, the benefits and the ways around the shortcomings.  In my research I found that there were only a few people across Canada that even knew what it was so I found that there was a gap in service for people that need the RDSP.  Because of that gap, I decided to make it a personal mission of mine to make sure that everyone is aware of what is available and to help people open the RDSP to ensure that they have it.  I look forward to everyday that I get to help open a RDSP for someone.  It is my happy place.  When I get to help people, it is not work, it is pure enjoyment.

If you qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), you must open an RDSP

There are qualifying criteria to opening a RDSP and they are:

  1. Live in Canada
  2. Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  3. Qualify for the DTC
  4. Be under the age of 60. (49 to collect the free money that the government has)
  5. File your taxes from age 16 or 2006.

That is it; the biggest hurdle is the DTC.  Get it done!  If you think you qualify for it, try and try again if you don’t succeed the first or second time.

I have a client that is missing both of his legs.  His parents tried when he was a kid but CRA turned them down for whatever reason.  We got him to try again, and he ended up getting over $16,000 in tax refunds and now is collecting grants in his RSDP!

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tends to deny the DTC if they don’t understand the situation.  In the example above, yes, he can walk with the use of prosthetics; however, he has limited times to be able to wear them and is confined to a wheelchair for the other times that he cannot wear the prosthetics.  CRA denied him originally because the doctor wrote that he was able to walk with prosthetics, but did not explain that it was only for limited periods of time, so it was denied.

The other issue with getting the DTC is the doctors…some just don’t understand it and need to be educated.  I have had some clients come back and say that their doctor would not sign the form as they would need to basically be a walking zombie for them to sign it.  If this is the case, find another doctor.

Because the DTC is a tax credit, there is a lot of money involved in possible tax refunds. This is why the difficulty in getting it sometimes.  In Alberta the tax credit is currently (2015) worth $2,589.85 for adults and $4,335.20 for kids.  Qualifying for the DTC and being able to go back to 2006 to adjust the refunds can be as much as $23,033.86 for an adult or $38,243.93 for a child.  Every province has a different value for their credits, so the value of the DTC refund will change depending on the province.

Now that the DTC is out of the way and approved, OPEN an RDSP as soon as possible!

The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is for anyone under the age of 60.  For those between 50 &60, it might not be the best option to save money, however, it is a great place to put an inheritance, etc. that would put you over the threshold amounts if you are on a provincial subsidy like AISH, ODSP.

For those under the age of 49, the RDSP is an absolute must have!

For those on provincial subsidies like AISH or ODSP, etc., no money needs to be put into the account.  The government will put in $1,000/year in Canada Disability Savings Bonds, up to a maximum of $20,000.

For those that can put some money into their RDSP and whose income is under $90,000 (roughly as this number changes every year) they will be matched 3:1 for the first $500 and 2:1 for the next $1,000 deposited.  So for $1,500, the government will put in $3,500 in Canada Disability Savings Grants!

If the income is over $90,000, then the government matches 1:1.  $1,000 for every $1,000 deposited each year.

The maximum amount of grants is $70,000! And what is even better…we can go back to 2008 to collect grants and bonds that we missed out on for not opening the RDSP right away!  That is a lot of money to collect!

CAUTION – if you are 46-49, you MUST get your RDSP open and funded (if you want the grants) NOW!  As soon as you are in the year that you turn 50 there are no more grants or bonds.  To be clear, if your birthday is December 15th and you turn 50 that day, it is too late to collect the government money.

Do not delay; get it opened as soon as possible!  Where do you get it opened?  The simple answer is give us a call 1.844.292.RDSP (7377) and we will arrange for someone to come and see you to get it done.  No cost and it takes about an hour.  (We get compensated from the financial institution that we work with, just like the banks would on any investment product like a RRSP or TFSA.  There are charges on each mutual fund that the financial intuition take to get paid themselves and then a portion gets sent to our office basically as a thank you for bringing the client to them.  This is the reason why not many do the RDSPs is due to the average compensation is about $6/month/client, this is why there is no cost to you.) Done.  We even do the follow up if there is something that is not absolutely perfect with the paperwork.  There are other places to go, however, learn from the experience of others that have tried…don’t do it.  There are many components of the RDSP that need to be taken care of to ensure that you get the money that is entitled to you for your retirement. We offer all our RDSP clients that are on income support complimentary tax preparation.

Steven Williams, RDSP Specialist

1.844.292.7377 (toll free)

Head Office

101, 11500 – 29 St SE

Calgary, AB T2Z3W9




The following is a list of suggested documents that can accompany application forms or appeal forms for any income supports programs:

Prescription medication list for the last year from pharmacist.

Letters from doctors: General Practitioner and any Specialists that have been seen.

Receipts for medical expenses such as walking aids or continence supplies that have been paid for by applicant.

Hospital Emergency Room, Admission and Operating Room records.

If disability was diagnosed at birth include birth records.

Any information in regards to disability, diagnosis or illness.

Records of treatment that has been utilized such as physical, occupational therapy or acupuncture. Request letter from therapist.

When trying to obtain documents you may be asked to pay a fee; inform the hospital or individual that you are applying for income supports or have low income and request that the fees be waived; you may be required to provide proof of income.

***PLEASE NOTE: Make copies of all documents and keep originals for your records in case department loses or misplaces documents; it is a really good idea to scan documents and save them on a memory stick or other external device.

***DISCLAMER: The above information provided is only intended to be general summary information for your use.


By Rick Hansen & Jim Taylor

D&M Publishing Inc.

Biography and Memoir

Ever wonder what really went on during the Man in Motion Tour; well here is your chance.  Rick Hansen was born August 26, 1957 in Port Alberni, British Columbia Canada.  Rick was a healthy and athletic young man; until one day in 1973 when he was paralyzed at the age of 15 in a motor vehicle accident.

This book is categorized as a Biography and Memoir, as you read on you realize that it is also a diary and a love story; what’s a book without a love story right? It is a thorough account of the Man in Motion tour that Rick embarked in March 1985 in order to bring disability accessibility awareness to the world; in Rick’s own words.

I enjoyed this book immensely; this book is thought provoking, will make you laugh and cry; it will make you question everything you thought you knew about individuals with disabilities; it may even give you hope.  It carries the reader flawlessly from Rick’s injury right to present day; if you have suffered a spinal cord injury please read this book; it will fill you with inspiration to achieve great things in life.

Rick Hansen has lived and continues to live an exceptional life; he made the decision early on following his accident to participated in life and not sit on the sidelines and watched it go by, RICK HANSEN MAN IN MOTION is sure to enlighten, engage and empower the reader.

BOOK REVIEW-Cam Tait Disabled? Hell No! I’m A Sit-Down Comic!

Cam Tait Disabled? Hell No! I’m A Sit-Down Comic!

By Cam Tait & Jim Taylor

Harbour Publishing  2015

Biography and Memoir

Cam Tait was born December 10, 1958 in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.  Born with Cerebral Palsy during a time when children with disabilities were not accepted in society as full citizens. Some would say that is still the case even today but I am not here to split hairs I am here to write a book review.

This book is categorized as a Biography and Memoir but it is so much more; it is a chronicle of a life well lived; it is a man’s tribute to people who helped him become who he is today; more importantly it is  a tribute to his parents who never gave up on him.

I enjoyed this book immensely; this book is thought provoking, will make you laugh and cry; it will make you question your preconceived notions of a person with a disability.  It carries the reader seamlessly from Cam’s birth to present day; it stresses the importance of volunteering as Cam benefited from people volunteering to do something called patterning that his parents learned from The Institutes for The Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP) in the USA; from Cam’s days as a NAIT student to his sit down comedy you will not be disappointed.

If you are a parent of a child with a disability please read this book it will inspire you to do more for your child then you ever thought possible.

Cam Tait has had a remarkable life but wait because I have a feeling Cam’s journey isn’t over yet.  This book will definitely enlighten, engage and empower the reader.

The Disabled and Relationships

Relationships for individuals with disabilities can be a challenge whether it is a relationship with a sibling, parent, peers, coworkers or an intimate relationship.

I would like to concentrate on intimate relationships for the disabled; although things have come a long way there is still a stigma that comes with being disabled. People with physical disabilities in today’s society are often regarded as non-sexual adults.  There are many myths and assumptions around sex and disability; for example; the belief that disabled people are asexual (not interested in sex) or incapable of sex.

Quite often the thought of a person with a disability having an intimate relationship makes people very uncomfortable namely parents of individuals with disabilities.

I remember being on a board several years ago at a meeting the topic of sex came up and as I looked around the room to see the reactions of the other people present I could help but notice the reaction of  one particular parent; she was mortified, and this kind of reaction isn’t unusual.

Not wanting to single this parent out I did say to the group that at some point parent would have to deal with the issue of sex, giving their children with a disability the “Talk” just as they would there nondisabled children.

If you are a parent that has a child with a disability and would like to talk to you child about intimate relationships or if you are an individual with a disability and feel that your parents don’t want to discuss intimate relationships with you I suggest that you go see a counsellor as a family to overcome the fear of talking about this topic or any other topic.


Free Counselling Services:

Community Services City of Edmonton 780-496-4777

Support Network Walk in Counselling 780-482-0198

Mon-Wed 1 Pm-8 pm/Thurs-Fri 10am-3 pm

Sliding Scale Counselling Services:

Catholic Social Services 780-420-1970

Family Centre 780-424-5580

You may be someone or know someone that could benefit from the use of the Plan Edmonton Program

PLAN Edmonton is a family directed organization that assists families to build a circle of friends for a family member who is isolated or is at risk of being isolated due to disability, living arrangement, limited opportunities, society’s perception or other circumstance.

PLAN Edmonton encourages families to define “a good life” for their family member and assist with by making that good life a reality. We also assist the family with obtaining a degree of peace of mind through planning for a safe and secure future for their family member who may otherwise have been isolated and vulnerable.

PLAN Edmonton accomplishes this through:

  • Assisting families to plan for the future
  • Facilitation of loving and caring personal support networks based on friendships
  • Provision of information on a wide range of issues and topics including will and estate planning, home ownership and legal guardianship options
  • Provision of family support and advocacy
  • A lifetime commitment to families
  • Advocating on behalf of people with disabilities with government & non-government groups in areas such as reform of tax and trust legislation
  • Creation of greater community awareness of the contribution that can be made by people with disabilities.

Suite 210, 11803 – 125 Street,

Edmonton, AB T5L 0S1

Tel: (780) 488-2422,

Fax: (780) 451-6709

Dating and the Disabled

Although I don’t recommend it there are dating sites that are dedicated to individuals with disabilities.  Although I do caution you to be very careful and be safe if you decide to go that route.

Here is a List of Dating Sites:

Disabled Dating World

Whispers 4 U

Disabled Dating by DAWN

Dating 4 Disabled Singles

Disabled DateAbleDisabled

United Special Singles Online

All Disabled

Disability Hook-up – Yahoo Group

Arab Disability Dating Site

Disabled and Having a Family:

Some individuals with disabilities are already in healthy intimate relationships and are considering having a family however sometimes conceiving a child can be difficult, if you are someone in this situation you have many options.  Two option you can consider is adopt or you can attempt IVF.


If you would like more information about adoption in the province of Alberta, visit for more information


If you would like to explore the option of IVF the following is a list of IVF Clinics in Alberta

Alberta Fertility Centre, Dr. Michael Awad, 5201 43 St., #140, Red Deer AB T4N 1C7, 403-347-2650, Obstetrician-gynecologist; infertility services. Ovulation induction, superovulation, endocrinology, HSG, laparoscopic surgery for infertility, sperm washing, partner and donor insemination.

Fertility and Endocrinology Clinic, Royal Alexandra Hospital, 10240 Kingsway Ave., Edmonton T5H 3V9, 780-735-5609, IUI, cryopreservation of semen. [sometimes, Women’s Endocrinology Clinic]

Regional Fertility Program, Foothills Medical Center, #300, 1620 – 29 Street NW, Calgary T2N 4L7, 403-284-5444, IVF program began in 1984. ICSI, IUI, HSG, superovulation intrauterine insemination, egg and embryo donation, surrogacy.  



Are You Being Bullied

For a number of years now we have been inundated through Public Service Announcements, non-profit initiatives and Social Media about the effects of bullying children; the worst of which is a child feeling so hopeless that they commit suicide; however we haven’t heard a lot about how to prevent and put a stop to it.   

It is starting to come to light that not only children get bullied but adults as well; especially on social media and at their place of employment.

Up until recently I wouldn’t have considered myself to have been or being bullied.   Not until  I really gave it some thought and realized that I too have been bullied; not only as a child but as an adult, the only difference between myself and a child that has committed suicide because if being bullied is that I have been able to deal with it and put a stop to it. 

Personally I stood up for myself and the bullying stopped.  But not everyone feels that they can stand up for themselves.  It is up to strong willed individuals to teach children and adults how to stand up for themselves and stop or prevent bullying.

My experiences with bullying have come about when I have responded to a post on Facebook about a social issue many times and have been met with someone who thinks its appropriate to say something offensive directed at me;  this one is easy to resolve because you can choose to not engage and block the person.  

I can remember an incident in Junior High School with a bully, it was so long ago that I don’t remember what was said to me but I do remember what my response was; funny how that works; I laughed. 

For me I think I have been bullied more in the workplace than anywhere else. Again that has always been easy for me to resolve; I would quit and move on to another position.  Keeping in mind what my High School Accounting Teacher told me, “Keep your job for a minimum of 1 year”. 

In my opinion and my opinion only; I will not speak for anyone else, I have been bullied as an adult in the workplace because people have been threatened by me.  Unfortunately I believe we still live in a society that believes that people with disability are not supposed to excel at anything let alone the workplace.         

I hope I have given many of you who read this post not only options to resolve bullying but also something to think about when engaging on social media and the workplace.   And remember to “Enlighten, Engage and Empower”.  And remember to be kind to each other.  

The Canadian Government has a great website aimed at children being bullied online, you can see it here:

 If you are a parent you can also do something to prevent your child from being bullied, you can see some great tips here:

 If you are an employer and want to prevent bullying this site has some great tips for you:

 Do you feel that you are being bullied in the workplace this site offers tips for you:


Life in the Fast Lane but Looking Up-by Carol L. Cooper November 2013

Ms. Cooper contacted me to discuss her options because as she explained in her letter she encountered issues with accessibility when she attended a conference, I suggested that she contact the Human Rights Commission in her area and also asked if she would consider writing something as a guest writer for my blog; here is her story: 

My life was turned upside down for five years as I dealt with severe arthritis in my knees and knee injuries. My life quickly went from being able to stand, to use a cane, a walker then a wheelchair.

I used to drive for special needs children – so was used to watching for barrier free facilities, ramps, and power doors.

What I found surprising was what it was like being on the inside of the wheelchair, instead of pushing it.

Difficulties occurred within my service work and my personal life.

I worked from home, but had to arrange monthly meetings. I would pick up and deliver items for my work- park the car, get out the walker, load it up then carry on. That did not bother me. What bothered me were peers that I worked for and with, teasing and making fun of me. Depending on the level of my knee pain- I could use either a walker or a cane. A friend would pick me up on bad days and push me in a wheelchair. I was jeered at because sometimes I used one and not the other, or told, “Ya right, you are faking it.”

I am an active member of my service club. Conventions are held twice yearly with people from all over the province. Some of these “service minded” people did exactly the same as my coworkers. “I was faking it.”  I was on our executive board, along with a couple others: one with breathing problems and the other with heart problems. We were to attend an executive meeting on a second floor, only accessible by stairs. No consideration was made for us. I was the only one to speak up about OUR concern and we were told ‘that they were sorry, too bad; we’ll find you when we are done.’ The general meeting was accessible but the hospitality rooms were not. Hmm, our main charity that we raise funds for is Cystic Fibrosis. The person with the breathing problem, which also was excluded from the meeting, has cystic fibrosis.

My personal life changed radically. I am a very outgoing person. I would go on spur of the moment road trips, visit family, go to movies, shop; you name it – I went places. As I became less and less mobile, and was house bound: I had to rely on mostly my husband, my two children that lived out of town and my home service club members. I couldn’t shop for groceries or household items unless someone was with me. Very few wanted to go with me because they had to drop me off at the store door and wait while a mobile scooter became available or they would have to push me. The distance from the parking lot to the store was too far. Some store wheelchairs or scooters are at the back of the stores so I wouldn’t be able to use them either, so I didn’t go there anymore.

Two stores that had mobility scooters that I could use were Costco and Walmart. The shopping experiences were different as night and day. While in Costco – the land of “too big” items, I couldn’t not only lift items into the basket on the scooter, but couldn’t open doors, or even see the titles of my favourite book counter. The books were too high and the doors were too heavy and hard to maneuver. To the other shoppers, I was invisible. If anything, I was in their way of their carts and their shopping experience. Each checkout had a wheelchair accessible sign on the post but you could not get through and have another customer go through the lineup next to you. So I again, inconvenienced shoppers and staff by blocking two lanes.

I cannot say enough about Walmart. Shoppers and staff, for whatever reason, seem more aware and are genuinely more helpful throughout. People would help me to reach something, would move over to let me though an aisle and even carryout my purchases to my car. People talked to me!

My eyes were open to a few of the daily struggles of those that have no choice but to use a mobility device. Barrier free public washrooms are scarce. Yes there may be a large stall, but there are one or more doors to try to go through to get to it. Once in the oversize stall, there may be safety bars but the toilet is too low to get on or off.  It’s ironic how some places will have a fantastic wheelchair accessible washroom but they do not have a power door or even a ramp to be able to get in to use it!

I now have the luxury of two new knees! I can walk! I still have difficulties getting out of too low chairs or vehicles. Yes, I still park in a special needs parking space because I need to open the door fully to get in or out and swing my legs over.

I can’t say enough about friends and family that helped me through the last few years – getting groceries, driving me places, kidnapping me to get out of the house. They held my arm to steady me, walked behind me as I attempted stairs, checked out seating arrangements, so that I would be comfortable, and held me when I cried. I am blessed to have them in my life.

My life on the other side of the chair has made me more vigilant in accessing the needs of others to make their lives happier.  No one deserves to be treated as invisible, as a fake, as a problem.  Their disability was not created to inconvenient others. It’s up to the rest of us to open our eyes and change our way of thinking.