10 Canadian Government Benefits You May Be Missing Out On

10 benefits from the Canadian government that may be available to you |  Financial Post

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.

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.

The truth is, budgeting and frugality aren’t always enough to feel comfortable financially. Life is expensive, especially with inflation on the rise.

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, you have a few options 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 find them all online.

Today, we’ll cover Canadian government benefits that may help you boost your income.

1. Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit

If you live in Canada, you have likely experienced a COVID-19 lockdown.

If you’re deemed a non-essential worker, this is a heavy blow to your finances. The revolving door of closures is frustrating, especially if you’ve gotten back into the groove of returning to work. Fortunately, you may be eligible for the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) if a lockdown forces you out of work again.

The CWLB is a benefit that offers temporary financial support of $300 per week before tax to employed and self-employed Canadians who are out of work because of a COVID-19 lockdown designated in their region.

Here are some of the main eligibility criteria:

  • You’re 15 years old or older.
  • You have a Social Insurance Number.
  • You reside in Canada and were present during the lockdown order.
  • You didn’t receive Employment Insurance (EI), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), the Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), or short-term disability benefits for the same period.
  • You filed a 2020 tax return and made $5,000 either in 2020, 2021, or in the last 12 months.

To receive this benefit, you must apply separately every week and sign up for direct deposit. Apply for the CWLB today!

2. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

Are you one of the many Canadians currently diagnosed with COVID-19? If so, you’re probably self-isolating and nervous about the money lost from the work you’ve been forced to miss. Luckily, there’s a benefit for that called the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).

The CRSB is income support of $500 each week before tax for Canadians that either:

  • Can’t work because of a COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • Have an underlying health condition that puts them at risk for contracting COVID-19.

If you meet the following eligibility criteria, you can apply for 6 weeks of support between September 27, 2020, and May 7, 2022:

  • You can’t work for at least 50% of your workweek due to advice to self-isolate, be it from a COVID-19 diagnosis or possibly being exposed to the virus, or because of an underlying health condition.
  • You reside in and are present in Canada.
  • You’re 15 years old or older.
  • You have a Social Insurance Number.
  • You haven’t applied for or received the Canada Recovery Benefit, the CRCB, the CWLP, EI, QPIP, or short-term disability benefits for the same period.
  • You haven’t received paid leave from your employer for the period in which you’re applying.

Ready to apply for the CRSB? First, make sure you file your 2019 and 2020 taxes, set up direct deposit, and create an account with the CRA.

3. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

Parents had it rough during the pandemic with all the school closures. Sometimes, daycare isn’t an option, so parents needed to take time off from work to stay home with the kids. The same is true for Canadians who care for family members needing supervised care.

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) is income support of $500 per week before tax for Canadians staying home to take care of children or family members for reasons related to COVID-19. Eligible Canadians can receive the benefit for 44 weeks, between September 27, 2020, and May 7, 2022.

Here are some of the main eligibility criteria:

  • You can’t work at least 50% of the time because of caring obligations for a family member due to COVID-19-related reasons.
  • You reside in and are present in Canada.
  • You’re 15 years old or older.
  • You have a Social Insurance Number.
  • You haven’t applied for or received the Canada Recovery Benefit, the CRCB, the CWLP, EI, QPIP, or short-term disability benefits over the same period.

Think you qualify? Apply for the CRCB today!

4. 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 $638 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, Canadian parents, Canadians living abroad, and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Apply for EI today!

5. Guaranteed Income Supplement

If you’re a Canadian over the age of 65, you likely receive Old Age Security (OAS) and the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP). But many of our Credit Counsellors report that OAS recipients aren’t aware of yet another tax-free benefit that can range between $577 – $959 based on their age and income: the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

A monthly payment, the GIS is available to Canadians over 65 who receive OAS payments. To be eligible, you must meet certain income requirements outlined here.

You might receive a letter from the government informing you that you will receive the GIS benefit or requesting you to apply. 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, like the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS).

6. Canada Workers Benefit

The Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) is a refundable tax credit dedicated to low-income households (net income must be under $24,573 for single individuals and $37,173 for families).

The benefit is comprised of a basic amount and a disability supplement, both of which you can apply for during tax time. However, certain eligibility criteria allow you to receive up to half of your CWB in advance!

Maximum amounts depend on your marital status. For example, single individuals can receive up to $1,381 while families can receive up to $2,379. Both can receive an additional $713 if they have a disability.

Apply for the CWB and advanced payments today!

7. 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. If you have children staying home due to COVID-19 lockdowns, you may be eligible for a larger CCB as well.

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.

Apply for the CCB today!

8. 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 25-65 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 often pooled investments where a plan holder contributes a set amount of money into a bank 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 income each month, the government contributions offered for certain plans can help boost your savings and allocate more money in your budget for other goals!

9. Registered Disability Savings Plan

Over 20% of Canadians have a disability, many of whom receive the Disability Tax Credit. But the average person forgets about saving opportunities, especially in securing funds for their 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 beneficiary 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!

10. 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 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 $49,020 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.

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!

While this program applies to Canadians in Ontario, other provinces have similar drug benefits as well, like Manitoba Pharmacare and Newfoundland’s Prescription Drug Program.

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 individuals who just need an extra boost in their income due to circumstances that are sometimes beyond their control.

We know the eligibility criteria and application periods might be intimidating at first, but it’s well worth the effort in making a difference to your budget and overall peace of mind!

If you’re dealing with debt and are looking for support to help supercharge your finances, contact us today to chat with a Credit Counsellor about your debt relief options!