Updated: February 2023
You’ve decided to jumpstart your finances. You created a budget, started tracking your spending, and even sacrificed a few nice-to-haves to keep costs low. But after you calculate the numbers, you realize you’re still short. Rather than go into debt, there may be some government benefits that could help.
12+ Government Benefits That Can Boost Your Income
Here at Credit Canada, our credit counsellors dedicate themselves every day to helping Canadians improve their financial health and get out of debt. With a consistently high 4.9 ranking on Google, our clients are satisfied with our expert debt advice, which we provide at no cost for every Canadian’s unique scenario.
Unfortunately, budgeting and frugality aren’t always enough to feel comfortable financially. Life is expensive, especially with inflation on the rise. On top of that, some Canadians, like veterans and Indigenous people, face unique challenges that affect their income.
There are two ways to supercharge your finances and ramp up your debt payments: spend less or earn more. And once you’ve exhausted the limits of your budget, earning more becomes the only option!
Don’t worry — even if your schedule doesn’t allow for a second job or side hustle, we know another way to find more cash each month: government benefits. And if you don’t know about many of them, you’re not alone. They're not exactly advertised, but you can filter benefits to suit your eligibility with the government’s benefit finder.
Today, we’ll cover government benefits for everyday Canadians and special audiences to help you boost your income.
1. Employment Insurance
Employment Insurance is something most Canadians pay into with every paycheque. You might wonder where that money goes every other week. The answer is right here: Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you could be eligible for up to 55% of your average weekly earnings, up to a maximum of $650 per week.
Here are some of the main eligibility criteria:
- You can’t work any longer due to no fault of your own (i.e., you didn’t quit voluntarily, you were laid off, flooding or wildfires affected your employment, etc.)
- You haven’t worked or received pay for at least 7 days in the last year.
- You are ready to work and are actively looking for work.
There are also sub-sections of EI for farmers, fishermen, teachers, and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Apply for EI today!
2. Guaranteed Income Supplement
If you’re a Canadian over 65, you likely receive Old Age Security (OAS) and Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) payments. But many of our credit counsellors report that OAS recipients aren’t aware of yet another tax-free benefit they can acquire: the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Monthly payments range between $618 - $1,026 based on your age and income.
The GIS is available to Canadians over 65 who receive OAS payments. The exact amount you’ll receive depends on your income and spouse’s OAS payments. If you’re single or divorced, your income must be under $20,832. If you’re married, your income must be under or between $27,552 to $49,920, depending on your spouse’s OAS payments.
You might receive a letter from the government informing you that the GIS benefit will start, renew, or end. However, if you do not automatically receive a letter, you may need to apply on your own.
Once you receive OAS and GIS, you may be eligible for further provincial benefits. For example, the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) could bring you anywhere between $2.50 and $83 per month.
3. Canada Workers Benefit
The Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) is a refundable tax credit dedicated to low-income households. Your net income must be under $32,244 for single individuals and $42,197 for families to be eligible.
The benefit comprises a basic amount and disability supplement, both of which you can apply for during tax time. But a recent proposal might allow for automatic payments to eligible individuals by July 2023.
Maximum amounts depend on your marital status. For example, single individuals can receive up to $1,395, while families can receive up to $2,403. Both can receive an additional $720 if they have a disability.
Apply for the CWB today!
4. Canada Child Benefit
Kids are expensive, and the government knows that. That’s why they offer the tax-free Canada Child Benefit (CCB) every year to most Canadian parents.
The website doesn’t list the exact amount you can expect to receive, as it depends on your family situation and income. However, you can use this handy calculator to estimate your expected benefit amount.
Any primary resident of Canada with a child under 18 years old may be eligible for the program if they are primarily responsible for the child. Plus, the Canadian government announced a CCB increase in July 2022 for the following year. Eligible families can now receive up to:
- $5,903 for every child aged 6-17 years old
- $6,997 for every child under 6
Apply for the CCB today!
5. Canada Training Credit
The Canada Training Credit (CTC) isn’t exactly a benefit, but it is extra support each month for many eligible Canadians. A refundable tax credit, the CTC helps you financially recover from some of the costs of training and tuition.
Eligibility criteria include:
- You were a Canadian resident throughout the year.
- You’re between 26-65 years old.
- You paid tuition either to an eligible educational institution or funds to an organization for certain professional examinations.
- You filed a tax return during the year you applied.
Depending on your income and certain conditions, you can accumulate up to $250 per year or $5,000 in your lifetime through the CTC.
Apply for the CTC next time you file your taxes!
Canada Savings Plans
Savings plans are investments where a plan holder contributes a set amount of money into an account for a particular purpose, like disability savings, retirement planning, and post-secondary education funds for children.
Oftentimes, savings plans offer tax benefits where holders can deduct contributions from their income. In some cases, employers or the government will match or partially match contributions, which is essentially free money!
While these aren’t direct benefits that you’ll see in your monthly income, certain plans’ government contributions can boost your savings and allocate more money in your budget for other goals!
6. Registered Disability Savings Plan
Over 20% of Canadians have a disability, many of whom receive the Disability Tax Credit. But it’s easy to forget about saving opportunities, especially for your loved one's future. That’s where the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) comes in.
The RDSP is a savings plan that helps caregivers plan and save money on behalf of a beneficiary with a disability. Plan holders cannot deduct RDSP payments from their income, but they can contribute until the beneficiary (person with a disability) turns 59.
The best part? The government can also contribute to this savings plan until the beneficiary turns 49 years old via the Canada disability savings grant and bond.
Depending on the beneficiary’s family income, the government will match contributions at 100%, 200%, or 300% for a maximum grant of $3,500 per year, or $70,000 throughout the beneficiary’s lifetime.
The government will also pay a $1,000/year bond (for a maximum of $20,000) directly into an RDSP for low-income Canadians with disabilities—no contributions required.
Depending on your province of residence, you may need to apply for and receive certain provincial disability benefits before being eligible for the RDSP. For example, an Ontario family must have already applied for and received the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to be eligible.
To open up an RDSP, you must contact an RDSP issuer, usually a financial institution like your bank.
Open up an RDSP today!
7. Canada Learning Bond for RESPs
If you have a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for your child’s post-secondary education—whether it’s for college, university, an apprenticeship, or other schooling costs—and your household is low-income, the government may add to your child’s RESP via the Canada Learning Bond.
The Government contribution is $500 for the first year and $100 each subsequent year that your child continues to be eligible for a maximum of $2,000.
Eligibility depends on each primary caregiver’s and their living partner’s income, as well as the number of children in the household. For example, a family with 1-3 children with a combined income of $50,197 or less is eligible for the bond.
Ready to apply for the Canada Learning Bond? Before you do, make sure you gather all your personal information and reach out to a participating RESP promoter.
Benefits for Unique Audiences
The Canadian government tries to reflect equitable practices in its laws and policies, including government benefits. Equity recognizes different circumstances across various groups.
Here are some specific benefits for unique audiences across Canada:
Benefits for Indigenous People
8. Non-Insured Health Benefits for First Nations and Inuit
Health services like dental care and mental health counselling might not be covered under regular social programs. Additionally, some First Nations and Inuit people might have trouble accessing the same health services other Canadians access regularly. That’s where the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program can be a relief. The program offers full coverage to eligible Indigenous people for:
- Vision care
- Dental care
- Mental health care
- Medical supplies
- Prescription and over-the-counter medication
- Transportation services to access medical care.
Eligible recipients just need to show government-issued identification for medical providers to bill the program directly, removing the stress of paying out of pocket.
9. Income Assistance Program
The On-reserve Income Assistance Program is a broad, last-resort financial support program for on-reserve residents and Status Yukon Indians. It covers various basic needs like food and rent, special needs like household and personal items, and employment skill and training support.
For more Indigenous support programs, visit Indigenous Services Canada.
Benefits for Veterans
10. War Veterans Allowance
The War Veterans Allowance offers a monthly payment to eligible Canadians to support basic living costs. On top of a monthly payment dependent on your income and service, veterans are also eligible for emergency funding of up to $1,000 per year through the program.
Apply for the War Veterans Allowance through your VAC Account.
Benefits for People with Disabilities
11. Disability Tax Credit (DTC)
The DTC is a tax credit for people with impairments related to walking, mental functions, speaking, hearing, and other limitations. To be eligible, you must show that the impairments affect your daily life 90% of the time or cause you to take three times longer to do basic tasks than others.
Exact credit amounts depend on your unique scenario. Apply for the disability tax credit today!
12. Child Disability Benefit
Do you have a child under the age of 18 with a disability? You might be eligible for up to $248.75 per month through the CDB. Keep in mind that this benefit is usually automatically granted if you’re eligible for the CCB and your child is eligible for the DTC.
Learn more about the Child Disability Benefit.
Other Government Benefits
- Financial Assistance for Canadians Victimized Abroad
- Canada Dental Benefit (Up to $650 per child)
- Provincial and Territorial Benefits
Bonus: Provincial Drug Benefit Programs
Close to half of Canadians over the age of 18 have used at least one prescription drug. Depending on your ailments, drugs can dig a deep hole in your pocket.
That’s why individual provinces and territories have introduced drug benefit programs, to help offset the high costs of medication. For example, the Ontario Trillium Drug Benefit helps Canadians pay for their prescription drugs if they meet the following criteria:
- They live in Ontario and have a valid Ontario health card number.
- They spend about 4% of their income on prescription drugs (after taxes).
- They don’t have an insurance plan that pays for all of their prescription drug costs.
Each eligible Canadian must pay a deductible (about 4% of household income) each year before acceptance to the program. After that, they can pay no more than $2 per prescription drug!
Wondering if your province has a drug benefit program? Click here to find out!
Credit Canada Can Help You Defeat Debt Hurdles
The Government of Canada sets aside a wealth of income support for eligible individuals who just need an extra boost in their income due to circumstances that are sometimes beyond their control. Remember to check the handy benefits finder for benefits specific to your unique circumstances.
We know the eligibility criteria and application periods might be intimidating at first, but it’s well worth the effort for a more manageable budget and peace of mind!