Provincial and Territorial Programs for Low-Income Seniors

Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) are the two major federal programs that provide financial assistance for Canadian seniors. OAS is available to almost any qualified resident or citizen of Canada although it can be reduced depending on years of residency or because it has been clawed back. To receive GIS you generally need to have applied for OAS, and you need to be below a certain income threshold. But what about provincial programs for seniors? They may not have the same profile, but they should not be ignored.


In my investigations, I could not find any provincial programs specifically geared toward low-income seniors in Quebec, Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia. Any readers who know of such programs, please comment on the social media service through which you read this post. Thank you.


British Columbia

Senior’s Supplement

To qualify for the Senior’s Supplement, a senior must receive OAS and GIS. The payments are based on how much financial assistance you get from OAS and GIS. You need to report this information on your income tax return as the payments are automatic. Those who are eligible will receive the supplement one month after their first OAS/GIS payment. Payments could be up to $99.30 per month for single seniors and up to $220.50 for senior couples.



Alberta Seniors Benefit

The Alberta Seniors Benefit requires applicants to be age 65 or older and in receipt of OAS. A calculation is done that starts with total income and deducts OAS, GIS, and a series of other deductions to arrive at an income for calculating benefits. If, after deductions, the income for calculating benefits is reduced to zero, the benefit can be as much as $285 per month, plus dental and optical assistance, for a single senior. Note that this is a benefit that one must apply for. It is not automatic.



Seniors Income Plan

The Seniors Income Plan (SIP) provides senior citizens with the financial assistance required to meet their basic needs. A monthly supplement is provided to seniors who have little or no income other than the federal Old Age Security (OAS) pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). A single senior can receive a maximum SIP benefit of $300 per month. When annual taxable income level reaches $4,560, the SIP drops to zero. OAS and GIS are not counted in calculating taxable income, nor are assets considered. However, interest and dividends would be included. As with Alberta, a senior would need to apply for this benefit.



55 Plus Program

Since one does not need to be age 65 or older, a Manitoban can apply for the 55 Plus Program without receiving OAS or GIS. However, if you are at least 65 and receiving OAS, you do not need to apply. Eligibility is determined automatically. Benefits are paid quarterly at a maximum rate of $161.80 per quarter for a single person and $173.90 per quarter for each person in a married/common-law relationship.



GAINS: Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System

GAINS provides a monthly, non-taxable benefit to low-income Ontario seniors. Monthly GAINS payments range between $2.50 and $83. If you have no private income, you’ll receive the maximum benefit of $83 a month. GAINS payments are provided in addition to OAS and GIS. Together, the intention is that the total maximum benefits from OAS, GIS and GAINS equal the guaranteed income level set by the Ontario government. Private income includes a private pension, Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and investment income, etc. A recipient must be at least 65 years old and receive both OAS and GIS. If you are already receiving OAS and GIS you do not need to apply, but you do need to file an income tax return.



None specific to seniors

While there are income supports in general for low-income earners, there are no income benefit programs that specifically target low-income seniors in Quebec.


New Brunswick

Low-Income Seniors’ Benefit

The Low-Income Seniors’ Benefit consists of a $400 annual payment for those in receipt of the following federal programs: the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the Allowance for the Survivor, or the Allowance. For the GIS, a recipient must be 65 or older; for the two allowances mentioned the age range to qualify for the New Brunswick benefit is 60-64. Note that in the case of a couple only one will receive the $400, unless they live separately due to one residing in a nursing home, for example.


Prince Edward Island

None specific to seniors

While there are income supports in general for low-income earners, there are no income benefit programs that specifically target low-income seniors in PEI.


Nova Scotia

None specific to seniors

While there are income supports in general for low-income earners, there are no income benefit programs that specifically target low-income seniors in Nova Scotia.


Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador Seniors’ Benefit

The Newfoundland and Labrador Seniors’ Benefit provides for seniors with a family net income of up to $29,402, whether single or a couple, to receive up to $1,313 annually. The benefit gradually phases out to zero the closer net income reaches $40,663. This benefit is paid along with the federal GST credit.



Senior Citizen Supplementary Benefit (SCSB)

The SCSB is a monthly payment of $175 to low-income seniors. This benefit is included with Old Age Security payments. As long as seniors complete the proper documents each year for income tax, GIS, and the Allowance, they have completed their application.


Northwest Territories

NWT Senior Citizen Supplementary Benefit

The NWT Senior Citizen Supplementary Benefit (SCSB) provides financial assistance to help low-income NWT Seniors to pay for living costs. The program provides a monthly cash payment to low-income Seniors who are receiving OAS and GIS or the Spouse’s Allowance from the Federal Government. Seniors are automatically eligible if they receive these benefits and can receive $196 per month.



Yukon Seniors Income Supplement

The Government of Canada calculates the monthly Yukon Seniors Income Supplement (YSIS) based on the GIS amount, which is in turn calculated based on the income declared in the previous year’s tax return. You therefore must be receiving OAS and GIS or, if between 60 and 64, receiving the Spouse’s Allowance or Survivor’s Allowance. This supplement increases monthly income by $273.05.


This is the 123rd blog post for Russ Writes.


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Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for general information and discussion purposes only. It should not be relied upon for investment, insurance, tax, or legal decisions.