Planning Your Future Gifts and For Your Family And Others

If you're wondering why you should attend the next Wills & Trusts Seminar, especially if you've attended one in the past, wonder no more.

B.C. Schizophrenia Society Foundation (BCSSF) sat down with John Pin, Senior Manager from Solus Trust Company Ltd., to ask him about what people will learn from these Wills & Trusts Seminars.

     BCSSF:  Why should people attend a Wills & Trusts Seminar?
     John Pin (JP): When facing death, we sometimes begin to think about the future of the people and organizations we care about the most. If you want to ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive which of your assets, what you want them to receive and when they are to receive it. You will, of course, want this to happen with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs. That is estate planning—making a plan in advance and naming the people or organizations you want to receive the things you own after you die.
     However, good estate planning is much more than that, it should include:
  • Instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.), in addition to your valuables
  • Instructions for your care, if you become disabled before you die.
  • The name of a guardian and trustee for children under the age of 19.
  • Provisions for family members with disabilities, without disrupting government benefits.
  • Provisions for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or those who may need future protection from creditors or divorce. 
  • Life insurance for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.
     Good estate planning will also minimize taxes, court costs and unnecessary legal fees. What you need to remember is that it should be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.
     We will outline some of the steps and considerations you would need to consider for a workable estate plan. 
BCSSF: Why should people learn about trusts?
JP: Many adults diagnosed with a disability or mental illness like schizophrenia are entitled to income and health benefits administered by the Ministry of Social Development. The Ministry requires that monetary gifts and assets received by those getting these benefits need to be reported. However, if the gift or asset exceeds a particular amount, it may impact the benefits that the recipient receives monthly from the Ministry. If you plan to leave an inheritance for a loved one who is receiving these income and health benefit, it will be considered a gift and if it’s significant, the recipient could be cut off from these benefits completely.
     However, it is possible to set up certain types of trusts without affecting a person’s ability to receive these benefits.
     We will cover the characteristics of a discretionary testamentary trust and highlight its advantages.
     Some of these characteristics and advantages include:
  • The beneficiary NEVER receives the inheritance directly.
  • The funds never belong to the beneficiary.
  • An unlimited amount of money can be held.
  • A trustee can make discretionary payments on behalf of the beneficiary within the limitations set out by the Ministry and your beneficiary will still receive their benefits.
  • If a beneficiary qualifies for disability credit, the trust is subject to lower marginal tax rates.
  • A fully discretionary trust cannot be claimed by creditors for debts incurred by the beneficiary, without the trustee agreeing to the payment.
  • It protects against “undesirable” persons influencing the beneficiary to waste the funds or give money/assets away.
  • The trust is protected even through personal bankruptcy of the beneficiary.
BCSSF: If people have attended a previous seminar, why should they attend this one?
JP: There have been many recent changes to the rules concerning qualifying payments from a trust to a beneficiary as it relates to income benefits and federal income tax changes to the taxation of trusts. We will cover these changes and more at the seminar.
     At every seminar, attendees learn something new. They are also able to bring any of their own questions to the seminar and ask them at the end. 
This is an invaluable resource that leaves people much better prepared for their twilight years. By making the plans now about how to protect your loved one, you can also plan to include gifts for organizations like B.C. Schizophrenia Society Foundation into the future.

If you're interested in attending the upcoming Wills & Trust Seminar in Surrey on Thursday, October 26 at 6:00 pm, call Cynthia at 604-270-7841 or email

Music for the Hearts 2017

On August 20, Music for the Hearts hosted their fourth annual musical fundraiser in support of better health. This year, they chose to honor B.C. Schizophrenia Society Foundation’s contributions to supporting mental health by donating all proceeds from the event to support BCSS’s programs, resources and research. More than 100 community members attended the event, raising a total of $4,000 for B.C. Schizophrenia Society.

The evening featured inspiring musical performances by young performers and students, and a feast of food generously donated by local restaurant sponsors. Dr. Robert Stowe from the University of British Columbia gave a brief presentation about schizophrenia and shared some of the important research into the illness his team is currently working on. Following this presentation, Gerhart Pahl, B.C. Schizophrenia Society Foundation Chair, highlighted some of the many ways BCSS supports people living with schizophrenia and other serious and persistent mental illness and their families through support services, education, advocacy and research.

Music for the Hearts is a charitable organization that raises funds for health care related causes through an annual fundraising concert. It was founded by a group of university students passionate about music and health care who combined their passions and created this annual fundraiser as a way to positively impact the health of their community.

B.C. Schizophrenia Society Foundation is extremely grateful to have been chosen as the beneficiary of Music for the Hearts 2017. The generosity and dedication shown by the Music for the Hearts team, the musical performers and the event’s many sponsors has been overwhelming.

The Story of Dave Sandy

My name is Chris Sandy and I recently joined the Board of the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society Foundation (BCSSF) because it is doing something that no other government agency or organization does.  It’s giving people “a reason to hope…the means to cope.”

One in 100 British Columbians are diagnosed with schizophrenia, but so many more live with it….their parents, brothers, sisters and other family members...all struggling to understand, support and be there for their loved ones.  We all know someone whose life has been affected by mental illness.

BCSSF programs and research save and transform lives and this is only possible because of the generosity of donors like us.  That is why I am asking you to consider making a gift this holiday season, and I will personally matching any donation you make to B.C. Schizophrenia Society Foundation until December 31st up to a total of $10,000.

This means that any special gift you make will be doubled, for example $50 or $100 will become $100 or $200.  Every gift makes a difference.

There may be someone you want to honour with your donation.  I am making my gift in memory of my little brother, Dave Sandy.  After struggling with schizophrenia for nearly 30 years, Dave took his life. 

Dave was a happy kid, upbeat, sincere, and well-liked by everyone at our school in Peterborough, Ontario.  He was happiest when playing sports, and I was always impressed with my little brother’s athletic ability.  We would play touch football together and he would have a huge smile on his face.  Dave could motivate our whole team to get a touchdown, time after time.

When Dave was in his late teens, our family started to notice a change in his behavior. He became distant and paranoid.  He would rarely leave the house and sometimes he’d say and do strange things that didn’t make sense.  It was a confusing and difficult time for all of us; there was a lot of tension and guilt.  We kept wondering which one of us caused Dave to suddenly behave this way.

Now we know nobody was to blame; Dave was in early psychosis.  

Years later, Dave was finally diagnosed with schizophrenia.  As you likely know, what happened after that wasn’t pretty.  There were many sleepless nights. Dave suffered from the side effects from either too much or not enough antipsychotic medication. 

I most remember our first trip to the hospital to admit Dave.  My dad, brother and I were walking with Dave from the Emergency Room to the Psychiatric Ward.  From a thousand games of touch football with my little brother, I knew when he was getting ready to run.  Sure enough, as soon as we were outside, Dave took off.  As I was running after him, all I really wanted to do was run with him – to run as fast and far away as we could to get away from schizophrenia. 

Whenever Dave was home from the hospital, my mother took care of him.  Mom was an extraordinary and patient caregiver and without her, Dave would have been institutionalized.  There were no programs that we knew of in those in those days to assist families.  Mom learned as much as she could, but there was no one she could turn to for knowledge and support.

Over the years, Dave would improve for short periods of time, only to slide back into psychosis again.  This cycle was very hard on Dave, on my mom, and on all of us.  We always kept hoping that there would be a new treatment or medication, anything that would give Dave a chance to live his life.

When he was 46, Dave suddenly became very depressed and within a week, took his life. Dave’s passing has left a huge, gaping hole in our family that can never be filled. 

It’s been six, long years since Dave has died, after decades of battling with schizophrenia – I wish he was here today.  I wish I could spend more time with him.  He was a great guy.

Today, I have a teenage son and sometimes when I look at him, I can’t help but see my 17 year old brother.  My wife points out that, without realizing it, I sometimes call my son ‘Dave’– a young man with his whole life ahead of him and the potential to do great things.  I’m often filled with fear that my son’s bright future will be taken away and I will lose yet another loved one to schizophrenia.

This is why I am doing all I can to make sure that other people do not lose their children, brothers, sisters or other family members to this devastating disease.  I must protect my son, and even my grandchildren, from the torment that Dave endured.  By volunteering and donating to B.C. Schizophrenia Society Foundation, I know that I am saving lives.  

Families and their ill loved ones are waiting far too long for programs and services they desperately need.  And we know that families in crisis do not have time to wait.  At the same time, researchers are seeking to improve early diagnosis, investigate impacts on the brain and find better treatments.   

Perhaps, if there had been an organization like B.C. Schizophrenia Society Foundation in Peterborough Ontario when Dave and I were growing up, we might still be playing football today…and doing so with our sons.

Please consider making a gift today and I will match any donation you make from now until December 31st up to a total of $10,000.


Chris Sandy
Volunteer Board Director

P.S.  Please join me by giving today.  Every donation counts!

Huge Thank You to Pacific Blue Cross!

On behalf of B.C. Schizophrenia Society’s Board of Directors, we would like to extend our sincere and heartfelt thanks for the charitable contributions of Pacific Blue Cross. Their ongoing support of our public education programs has had a great impact on spreading awareness and understanding of severe mental illness in British Columbia.

This year Pacific Blue Cross contributed $10,000 towards B.C. Schizophrenia Society’s Partnership Puppeteer Program: a puppet show performed by individuals living with mental illnesses, designed to educate elementary school children about mental illness.

By educating children about mental illness at a young age, we create pathways to care for students who may be experiencing early symptoms of psychosis. Targeting our efforts to reduce stigma at the elementary school level allows us to have a stronger chance to make a meaningful impact, shift children's thinking with respect to mental illness and foster an informative, compassionate environment where stigma can no longer successfully be perpetuated.

Without the generosity of donors like Pacific Blue Cross, crucial programs like BCSS' Partnership Puppeteer Program would not be possible. Thank you!



Thanks to the support of B.C. Schizophrenia Society Foundation, the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry has successfully completed the purchase and implementation of a 256-channel electroencephalogram (EEG) system to advance the Department’s schizophrenia research program. This state-of-the-art equipment will enable UBC schizophrenia researchers and their colleagues in mind and brain health research to develop more nuanced models of the relationship between symptoms and brain function, increasing the speed with which new therapies can be developed and tested for the benefit of patients with schizophrenia and other brain disorders in British Columbia. 

Data collection for research using this system started in September 2015 for four schizophrenia-related studies, all being conducted by Dr. Todd Woodward, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Cognitive Neuroscience of Schizophrenia Laboratory.

Functional brain networks underlying non-pharmaceutical interventions for psychosis A study aimed to contribute to the body of evidence supporting methods for bringing strength and organization back to the brain networks affected in psychosis through the use of group-based education and training sessions. 

Cognitive and brain mechanisms underlying disconfirmatory evidence integration in delusions in schizophrenia

Schizophrenia patients with delusions have difficulty integrating new evidence that contradicts current beliefs, and this may contribute to the maintenance of delusions. This study investigates whether these brain networks are impaired in schizophrenia patients with delusions, compared to patients without delusions and healthy controls.

Decision-making and schizophrenia and the salience networkThis study investigates whether salience networks used in decision-making are impaired in schizophrenia, compared to healthy controls.

Neurological networks underlying working memory in psychosisThe purpose of this study is to develop a better understanding of the brain networks underlying persistent cognitive impairments (present throughout the course of schizophrenia) in working memory.

[Full progress report available]

B.C. Ministry of Health Provides B.C. Schizophrenia Society $3 Million to Help People Affected by Schizophrenia Gain Reasons to Hope and Means to Cope

L to R: David Halkowski (President, B.C. Schizophrenia Society), Health Minister Terry Lake (B.C. Ministry of Health), Jane Thornthwaite (Parliamentary Secretary for Child Mental Health), Deborah Conner (Executive Director, BCSS), Bryn Ditmars (BCSS)

On National Schizophrenia Day, Tuesday, May 24, Health Minister Terry Lake announced that the B.C. Ministry of Health will be providing B.C. Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) a total of $3 million funding over the next five years. This generous funding will help BCSS meet our mandate of providing support and education to families and their ill relatives suffering from schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses; increase public awareness and understanding of mental illness; advocate on behalf of families and people with serious mental illness for improved services; and promote research into the causes, treatment, and ultimate cure of schizophrenia.

“This funding will literally save lives, in addition to reducing hospitalizations and homelessness across the province,” said Deborah Conner, executive director of B.C. Schizophrenia Society. “We have families and friends who are seeking access to support for their loved one reaching out to BCSS. Today, the B.C. government has answered their call. On behalf of families across B.C., we are grateful."

Health Minister Terry Lake announces that the B.C. Ministry of Health is providing $3 million funding for BCSS programs and services for the next five years.
Currently, there is a need for more equitable access to services in B.C. for the mentally ill and their caregivers. Through this funding, new outreach educator positions are being created to help provide direct services and emergency support for families and their ill relatives in variety of underserved communities across B.C., including parts of the Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Northern B.C. and Vancouver Island. We’ll also be reinstating services in key areas across Vancouver, Richmond and Sunshine Coast where services had been previously reduced due to funding cuts.

“If unsupported, there can be many health, social and economic consequences associated with schizophrenia and psychosis,” said Lake. “Caregivers provide immeasurable support to loved ones who are dealing with serious mental illness, and by helping take care of their own mental wellness, we are also helping them provide love and support to those struggling with these illnesses.”

Through BCSS outreach educators, who work closely with local health authorities, BCSS is able to provide important frontline and emergency support, which includes listening to family concerns, referring to other services, assisting with access to community supports, troubleshooting and helping families navigate the mental health system.

All eyes are on a video for BCSS' Strengthening Families Together - First Nations Edition.
This funding also allows BCSS to offer programs like Strengthening Families TogetherStrengthening Families Together (First Nations Edition), and family support groups family peer support in more communities across B.C. Additionally, BCSS educators can deliver education and support through school programming, and a Partnership Education program, which is geared toward professionals such as policing agencies, human resource departments, hospital staff and universities. BCSS educators also provide information to the public at community events, raising awareness of mental illness and directing people to resources in their local communities.

This network of educators, facilitators and family support workers will help advance B.C.’s mental health strategies. BCSS is excited about this partnership with the B.C. Ministry of Health in moving these initiatives ahead to support all B.C. families and friends living with the impacts of schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses.

All these programs provide critical education and resources for families and communities in need. We at BCSS would like to extend a huge thank you to Health Minister Lake and the B.C. Ministry of Health for their help in providing a reason to hope and a means to cope.

--- Other photos from the event ---

President of the BCSS Board, David Halkowski, thanks Minister Lake and the Ministry of Health for their support.
Bryn Ditmars, diagnosed with schizophrenia at 23, now speaks on behalf of BCSS to help people better understand what is schizophrenia. His family also benefited greatly and found hope from BCSS programs and educators.
B.C. Schizophrenia Society is looking forward to our partnership with the B.C. Ministry of Health in moving these initiatives ahead to support all B.C. families and friends living with the impacts of schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses

Housing Challenges for the Seriously Mentally Ill: Panel Discussion hosted B.C. Schizophrenia Society

Please join B.C. Schizophrenia Society as we facilitate a special discussion between government and other local not-for-profits on housing. Each speaker will speak from their expertise and the discussion will focus on the challenges that people with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses face when it comes to housing.

When:    Sunday, June 5, 2016 
              1:00 P.M. – 3:30 P.M. 

Where:  Fletcher Challenge Theatre 1900
              SFU Harbour Centre 
              515 West Hastings Street
              Vancouver, B.C.

Who:     Darrell Burnham, CEO, Coast Mental Health
              Dominic Flanagan, Exec Dir, Supportive Housing and Programs, B.C. Housing
              Carol Bellringer, B.C. Auditor General
              Sue Hammell, Opposition Spokesperson for Mental Health and Addictions
              Dr. John Higenbottam, Clinical Psychologist, UBC and Douglas College

Some questions to be considered throughout the discussion:
  • What does it mean to provide a home for people who have a serious mental illness? What does it include?
  • What are the best settings for people with schizophrenia that will decrease the likelihood of relapse?
  • Who is part of their mental illness care team and what levels of daily support are needed?

People with serious mental illnesses require different levels of support as part of their treatment plan. From medication and types of therapy to healthy lifestyles and building a community, all these factors influence the potential outcome of the illness. Through the experiences of our members, we know that having a sustainable, safe and supportive housing makes a difference. It allows for early recognition of potential relapses and helps ensure that people with schizophrenia lead productive and meaningful lives.

This event will be made available province-wide through a live webinar. For those joining us in person, please stay for refreshments after the presentation. 

For more information and to register, please contact or 604-270-7841.

We hope that you can join us in building more reasons to hope and creating more means to cope.