S.A. v. Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation


April 24, 2018

On April 25, 2018, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is intervening in a very important case before the Supreme Court of Canada. This case could have a significant  impact on persons with disabilities, affecting their autonomy, independence and inclusion. The case is called S.A. v. Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation. It raises the question: can absolute discretionary trusts, also known as Henson Trusts, be taken into account in eligibility criteria for social programs, like a housing subsidy or social assistance?

Why This Case is Important

Henson Trusts are relied upon by many persons with disabilities.  These trusts allow family members to put aside money for persons with disabilities while preserving their entitlement to social assistance benefits. The added money they may receive from these trusts could go toward helping them pay for disability-related expenses or an enhanced quality of life, or other items not covered by social assistance. Essentially Henson Trusts work together with social assistance by covering important costs that social assistance does not.

James Hicks, National Coordinator of the CCD, states that “the impact of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the case could affect all Canadians with disabilities, and might limit their access to social assistance and other publicly available supports and services.”

The Case at the Supreme Court

In S.A.’s case, the housing authority wanted to take into account the value of her Henson Trust when deciding who to give housing subsidies to. The British Columbia Court of Appeal allowed them to do that. The CCD will argue that the Court of Appeal’s decision undermines the dignity of persons with disabilities, the purpose of a Henson Trust and is contrary to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

ARCH Disability Law Centre is representing the CCD before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Date:             Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 9:30 am

Location:      Supreme Court of Canada
                      301 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON

Contact:       Dianne Wintermute, Staff Lawyer, ARCH Disability Law Centre
                     Phone: 416-482-8255 ext. 2230; Email: Wintermd@lao.on.ca