Registered Disability Savings Plan Action Group
The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Action Group is an advisory committee to government that includes prominent financial and social leaders who will work to realize government’s Accessibility 2024 commitment to build and maintain B.C.’s position as the province with the highest per capita uptake of RDSPs in Canada.
After an extensive public consultation process, the Premier released Accessibility 2024 in June, 2014. Accessibility 2024 is 10-year action plan created to make B.C. the most progressive province for people with disabilities in Canada by 2024. One of the key building blocks in the plan is Financial Security, which includes a goal for our province to have the highest savings rate for people with disabilities in Canada by 2024 through the use of financial tools such as the RDSP.
The RDSP is a long-term savings plan designed by the Government of Canada to help people with disabilities and their families save money for the future. British Columbia was the first province to support the RDSP, and ensures that money held in or paid out of an RDSP does not affect people’s income or disability assistance.
Norah Flaherty, a Business Consultant with Flaherty and Associates and the parent of a young adult with a developmental disability, serves as Chair of the Action Group. Ms. Flaherty brings to this initiative exemplary leadership in disability program management.
Mandate and Scope
- The RDSP Action Group is a network of prominent and influential leaders in B.C. appointed by the Government of British Columbia to champion the Premier’s Accessibility 2024 commitment to grow and maintain BC’s position as the province with the highest per capita number of Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs) in Canada
- This will result in increased financial security for persons with disabilities and their families in British Columbia
- The RDSP Action Group will act as an advisory group to government by championing the RDSP in their sector and range of influence
- The RDSP Action Group will be supported by an RDSP Working Group. The Working Group will be responsible for implementing ideas and solutions generated by the RDSP Action Group and addressing barriers and solutions for people with disabilities to increase uptake of RDSPs in B.C.
- The result will be an opportunity for the province to demonstrate that it is the making B.C. the most progressive jurisdiction for people with disabilities in Canada through outstanding participation in the RDSP program
Action Group Members
- Tim Ames, Executive Director, PLAN and Plan Institute
- Wendy Baker, Retired Justice, B.C. Supreme Court
- Neil Belanger, Executive Director, B.C. Aboriginal Network on Disability Services (BCANDS)
- Peter Bogardus, Retired lawyer, Davis LLP
- Michael Bonner, Senior Vice President, Bank of Montreal
- Jane Dyson, Executive Director, Disability Alliance BC
- Michael Edgson, Investment & Retirement Planner, RBC Financial Planning
- Brant Hasanan, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones Investments, Past President, BC Chamber of Commerce
- Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, CEO, Century Plaza Hotel & Absolute Spa Group
- Kevin McCort, President and CEO, Vancouver Foundation
- Michael Prince, Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy, University of Victoria
- Jan Sampson, Executive Vice President, Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C.
- Jack Styan, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Community Living BC
- Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO, Vancity Credit Union
Group Member Biographies
Norah Flaherty is a Business Consultant with expertise in disability related issues. She serves on the Board of Directors of Community Living BC, as well as the Advisory Committee of Canadian Business SenseAbility. A former Lecturer at Concordia University in Montreal, Ms. Flaherty has also served on several education-related boards including that of the École Française Internationale de Vancouver. She founded the West Point Grey Ball Hockey Team for young men with developmental disabilities, and is a member of the Program Committee of the Canucks Autism Network.
Ms. Flaherty holds a Bachelor of Education and Master of Science in Renewable Resources from McGill University, as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Concordia University, Montreal.
Tim is PLAN and Plan Institute’s Executive Director; he manages both the leadership teams and the various initiatives of Plan Institute. Tim enjoys actively working with the boards of both organizations and the many partnerships that are key to their success. Tim’s business experience is matched only by his intense passion for helping people discover and develop their passions to create a balanced life.
Tim has over 25 years’ experience in leadership, global business development, sales management, and personal development, having worked in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. He has been part of numerous start-ups to mature business stability and enjoys both challenging and collaborative working environments.
Neil Belanger, Executive Director, British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS)
Neil Belanger is the Executive Director of the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS). Neil has worked in the fields of disability and health for the past 18 years, both within British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Through his and his various teams’ work within the disability sector, organizations he has served on have received various awards and recognition, most recently being the 2016 Canadian Medical Association’s Excellence in Health Promotion National Award; the 2015 March of Dimes Canada’s – Judge George Ferguson National Award; the 2014 Social Planning and Research Council’s – Deryk Thomson Award; the 2013 British Columbia Medical Association’s Excellence in Health Promotion Award and; the 2013 Canadian Mental Health Association – BC Division’s Dr. Nancy Hall Public Policy Leadership Award.
Neil serves on a variety of local, regional and provincial disability and health related boards and committees and is currently a member of the Minister’s Council on Employment and Accessibility; the Chair of the Community Living British Columbia’s (CLBC) Aboriginal Advisory Committee; Board member of Inclusion BC; member of the Program Committee of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies; and, a member of the Aboriginal Infant / Supported Child Development Provincial Steering Committee.
Neil was traditionally adopted into the Lax Se el (Frog) Clan within the Gitxsan First Nation in 2007.
Peter was raised in Vancouver and earned his commerce and law degrees at UBC while his wife, Lynne, taught school to keep food on the table.
Peter was a partner of what is now Davis LLP and practiced law with that firm from 1968 until he retired from the firm and from the practice of law in 2011. He limited his 40 plus years of practice to matters relating to wills, trusts, and estate administration. He held senior positions with the Wills and Trusts Section of the B.C. Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, became a member of the Estate Planning Council of Vancouver in 1978, and was elected Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel in 1990.
He was an author of Probate Practice Manual for the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia (CLE) in 1981. He was a member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of the British Columbia Probate and Estate Administration Practice Manual (1989–2011) and British Columbia Estate Planning and Wealth Preservation (2006–2011) for CLE. He also co-authored, together with his long-time colleague at Davis LLP, Mary Hamilton, the legal text Will Precedents: An Annotated Guide for CLE. He continues to contribute to the text.
During his practicing years he participated in many Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) workshops and provided many seminars for parents of children with disabilities.
Michael Bonner was appointed Senior Vice-President, B.C. & Yukon Division for BMO Bank of Montreal in February of 2014. Michael has over 20 years’ of banking experience that has seen him lead diverse businesses in BMO’s Personal, Commercial, Specialized Sales and Corporate Finance segments; gaining extensive knowledge of products, services and processes which allows him to excel at following BMO’s vision: to be the bank that defines great customer experience.
In 2007, Michael received his first executive appointment as District Vice-President, Personal and Commercial Banking for Nova Scotia. In 2010 he was appointed the Regional Vice-President, Commercial Banking for the Greater Toronto Area where he was responsible for building a team to drive commercial market share and customer loyalty.
Michael has been involved on several boards including the Alzheimer’s Society and the Mental Health Foundation and is well known for his fundraising efforts for Kids Help Phone.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Canadian Bankers and holds an MBA in Finance from Dalhousie University.
Jane Dyson has been with Disability Alliance BC (DABC) since 1998. She has been the Executive Director since 2009.
Jane has been responsible for the management of many projects designed to enable people with disabilities to live with dignity and independence in their communities. These include initiatives to make the RDSP more accessible, particularly to people with disabilities living on very low incomes. In September 2016, DABC entered a four year partnership with Plan Institute and the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society to provide supports to people with disabilities across B.C. to open RDSPs.
Jane has also played a leadership role in developing stakeholder partnerships to promote communication between the disability community, government and other decision-makers. The Disability Without Poverty Network/Supporting Increased Participation for people with disabilities is one example of this model. She is also responsible for organizing committees that have brought together community organizations with TransLink, ICBC, and the business sector.
Jane is frequently interviewed by media on issues of importance to B.C.’s disability community. She is a member of the Minister’s Council for Employment and Accessibility, the Metro Vancouver Transit Police Chief's Community Council, and the Law Foundation of BC’s Access to Justice Committee. She is a past Board member of the Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry, and the Vancouver Foundation’s Disability Supports for Employment Advisory Committee.
Jane has a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Simon Fraser University.
In 2015 she was awarded the Order of British Columbia for community leadership.
Michael has been with RBC for over 18 years in a variety of leadership roles. Currently, he provides advice and guidance as a Licensed Financial Planner focusing on long term investment strategies for clients. Michael is the Founding Chair of RBC’s National Employee Resource Group for People with a Disability. Michael has been involved on several Boards, including: Director of Finance – Canadian Paralympic Committee, Director – Delta Gymnastics Society, and Assistant Director – Fraser South Swimming.
Michael has been recognized for his contributions to Sport in Canada, including induction into: Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Canadian Paralympic Sports Hall of Fame, Terry Fox Hall of Fame, and Swim Canada’s Circle of Excellence.
Michael completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria and holds his Personal Financial Planning Designation.
Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia is the Chief Executive Officer of the Century Plaza Hotel and Absolute Spa Group, Canada’s largest independent spa chain. Mrs. Lisogar-Cocchia’s community involvement includes serving as a Business Council of British Columbia Governor, Vancouver Police Foundation Trustee, Royal Roads University Fellow, and Vancouver Board of Trade Chair. She is a University of British Columbia graduate who attained a Bachelor of Arts degree, and is a proud founding contributor to the Langara College Spa Technology Program.
Mrs. Lisogar-Cocchia is known not only for her entrepreneurial drive but also for her philanthropic endeavors. Over the past twenty-five years she has raised considerable funds for British Columbia’s special children. Her current goal as co-founder of the Pacific Family Autism Center is to make a significant difference for those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Mrs. Lisogar-Cocchia has received an Honorary Doctorate (Honoris Causa), from the Justice Institute of British Columbia, the British Columbia Community Achievement Award, the C.H.I.L.D Foundation Humanitarian Award, Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100, BC’s Most Influential Business Women, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Kevin was appointed President and CEO of Vancouver Foundation in September 2013. Before joining Vancouver Foundation, he served for six years as President and CEO of CARE Canada in Ottawa, one of Canada’s leading development and humanitarian aid organizations and has lived and worked in many countries, including: Mali, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
He is currently a Director of Imagine Canada, serving on the Board since 2009. Imagine Canada is a national charitable organization dedicated to strengthening charities and non-profits. He is also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization.
He graduated in 1989 with a B.Sc. (Specialist/Honours) from the University of Toronto. In 2005, he earned a Master of Business Administration from Queen's University. In February 2013, he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.
Michael J. Prince, PhD Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy, Faculty of Human & Social Development, University of Victoria
Dr. Prince teaches courses in public policy and practice as well as activism and advocacy, and his current research interests include trends in Canadian social policy; federal-provincial relations; trauma of veterans; pension reform; aboriginal governance; and, disability politics and policy issues.
An active volunteer, Dr. Prince has been a board member of a community health clinic, a legal aid society, a hospital society and hospital foundation, the BC Association for Community Living, and the social policy committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. He serves on the Advisory Committee on Children and Youth with Special Needs, to the Representative of Children and Youth for British Columbia.
In 2007, Dr. Prince received a President’s Award from the Canadian Association for Community Living, in recognition of “exceptional contribution to Canadians’ understanding of public policy that builds an inclusive and accessible Canada.” In 2011, he received the University of Victoria Community Leadership Award. In 2012, Dr. Prince was presented a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his public services. Dr. Prince was named Academic of the Year in 2014 by the Confederation of Faculty Associations of British Columbia.
Jan Sampson, FCPA, FCA is the Executive Vice-President Education and Member Engagement for the Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C. organization (CPABC). Jan has worked with CPABC and its predecessors in a variety of roles, most recently as Chief Operating Officer of the legacy CA Institute and now in a role focused on supporting members and students. As part of her current role, Jan is a member of a national Member Engagement Committee, and chairs its Communities Subcommittee which, among many other initiatives, encourages volunteerism amongst members. Both provincially and in this national role, Jan supports the CPA Canada financial literacy initiatives. In B.C., her team works with CPA Canada to recruit CPAs willing to offer financial literacy sessions and to host training sessions for them, with over 1,500 CPAs in B.C. volunteering for this worthwhile program.
Jack joined Community Living BC in 2012 after working with people with disabilities and their families for 30 years. In 2011, Jack launched the RDSP Resource Centre–a social purpose venture committed to advancing financial security for Canadians with disabilities.
Previously Jack worked at Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network, where he led advocacy efforts to get the Federal Government to implement the Registered Disability Savings Plan and to get provincial governments to modify their disability assistance to encourage people to utilize the RDSP. Prior to joining PLAN, Jack was the Executive Director of Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion.
Jack is a former member of the Will & Estate Planning Council of Vancouver, is a former Board Member of Family Support Institute of BC and holds an M.S.W. from UBC.
As Chief Executive Officer of Canada's largest community credit union, Tamara Vrooman harnesses the strength of Vancity to fulfill its vision of redefining wealth for members and communities. This vision challenges us to think differently about wealth, to return to a meaning that says you can only truly prosper as an individual if you are connected to a vibrant, healthy community that is sustainable for the long term.
Tamara considers her role a continuation of her career in public service, putting Vancity’s $17.1 billion balance sheet in service of members to create growth with community impact. Through Vancity's involvement with the Social Finance Task Force and the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), she sees this can be done on a national and global scale, recognizing that we play a key role in improving the quality of life for current and future generations through values-based banking.
Under Tamara's leadership, Vancity became the first carbon neutral credit union in North America, the first Canadian financial institution invited to join GABV, and the largest organization in Canada with a living wage policy (a living wage is higher than minimum wage; it is a wage that meets the needs of daily living and provides some discretionary income). In 2011, Tamara guided Vancity to its best earnings performance in its 65-year history.