Brian Malkinson MLA for Calgary Currie has sponsored a private members bill in the Alberta Legislature to allow for Henson Trusts in Alberta. A Henson Trust is used to hold an inheritance for the benefit of a handicapped individual which will not affect their eligibility for income support programs like Alberta Income Support for the Handicapped. Alberta remains the only jurisdiction in Canada that does not allow for this type of discretionary Henson trust which was made possible by the Supreme Court of Ontario in 1989 which ruled that trust assets were not vested in the beneficiary and thus could not be used to terminate government benefit programs.
Currently a limit of $100K can be held in a trust and any income over $800 per month flowing to the beneficiary would affect their AISH payments however a trust can be used to hold assets and purchase services and support for beneficiaries. Individuals can also have up to $200K in their RDSP as well as ownership of a vehicle and a home exempt from AISH claw back.
Malkinson has had consulting meetings in Calgary and Edmonton which were very well attended and included Wild Rose MLA Leela Aheer who committed to bringing the bill before her caucus for support. After consultation, the Parliamentary Counsel’s office will draft legislation and there will be another round of consultation with the public before it comes to the legislature.