What kinds of' income security benefits are available?

Governments at the federal, provincial and municipal level help people who are unable to provide for themselves and their families.

Special programs help people in different circumstances, such as:

  • raising children (Child Tax Benefits),

  • retirement (Canada Pension/Quebec Pension, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement),

  • job-related injuries (Workers' Compensation),

  • the loss of a job (Employment Insurance),

  • longer-term unemployment (Social Assistance).

Who can receive income security benefits?

Most benefits are for people in specific circumstances. You must qualify for each type of government assistance. For some benefits, you must pay into the plan to be eligible to receive them. Sometimes, a person or family may qualify for more than one kind of income security, but each has separate application or procedures and rules to ensure that benefits only go to those who need them.

To qualify for any benefits, you must have a Social Insurance Number.

What is a Social insurance Number (SIN)?

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is an identification number given to each person for the purposes of income tax, Employment Insurance, old age pension, etc.

Most newcomers receive an application form for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) when they first arrive in Canada. If you did not get one, you can apply at any Human Resource Centre of Canada (HRCC). You will need to show your birth certificate, Canada Immigration visa (Record of Landing) and passport. There is a small administrative fee. Forms are also available at Canada Post offices and through many immigrant-serving agencies.


The federal government provides monthly payments to parents or guardians on behalf of children under the age of 18, through a program called the Child Tax Benefit. It is usually paid to the mother of the child if the child lives with her. The amount is different according to family income, number of children and their ages.

Who is eligible?

To be considered for the Child Tax Benefit you must be the parent or guardian of the child who lives with you. In addition, you or your spouse must he either a:

  • Canadian citizen,

  • Permanent resident,

  • Convention refugee in Canada whose refugee status has been confirmed by the Immigration Refugee Board, or

  • Visitor or holder of a Minister's Permit under the Immigration Act, who has lived at least 1 8 continuous months in Canada before applying for the Benefit.

How do you apply?

Send an application form to Revenue Canada, Taxation and show documents such as Record of Landing or passport. Proof of birth must also be provided for each child. You may also contact a Client Service Centre, Income Security Program, Human Resources Development Canada. For further information, look in the government pages of your telephone book.


The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is given to people 65 and over who meet residence requirements. Those who have little or no other income may be eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). The spouse (between the ages of 60 and 64) of a low income or deceased pensioner may qualify for the Spouse's Allowance (SPA).

Who is eligible?

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who has lived in Canada for 40 years after the age of I 8, you are eligible for a full OAS pension. People who have lived in Canada for less than 40 years may get a reduced pension. Permanent residents from some countries may be able to receive old age security from their previous country of residence.

Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Spouse's Allowance (SPA) are available to people who can prove they need the money.

How do you apply?

You can apply to a client Service Centre, Income Security Program Branch of Human Resources Development Canada. You will find these listed in the government pages of the telephone book. You will need a birth or baptismal certificate, passport or Canada Immigration visa (Record of Landing).


Canada and Quebec Pension Plans are a form of insurance to which people must contribute during their working years, to receive monthly payments starting at age 65. A reduced pension is available at age 60. These plans also include survivor's pensions for the spouses of deceased pensioners, disability pensions and children's and death benefits.

Who is eligible?

Canadian citizens, permanent residents, visitors and holders of a Minister's Permit who have been legally admitted to Canada for one year, whose income that year was subject to Canadian income tax and who contributed to the plan. The amount paid out will depend on the total amount contributed.

How do you apply?

You can apply to a Client Service Centre, Income Security Programs, Human Resources Development Canada. You will find these listed in the government pages of the telephone book. You will need a birth or baptismal certificate, passport or Canada Immigration visa (Record of Landing).


Who is eligible?

You are eligible if you have made payments to Employment Insurance (El) while you were working over a minimum time, and if you lose your job through no fault of your own.

You may also be eligible for benefits if your reason of unemployment is the birth or adoption of a child, enrolment in a national training program, work sharing or job training.

How do you apply?

You must apply to the Human Resource Centre of Canada (HRCC) nearest you. Consult the government directory pages of the telephone book.

Social Assistance

Social Assistance, often called welfare, helps people in need who are not eligible for other benefits. Benefit payments help pay for food, shelter, fuel, clothing, prescription drugs, and other health services.

Eligibility rules and the size of payment are different from region to region. In some cases, you may be eligible for programs to train you for the work that is available. Social Assistance is usually administered though local offices of the provincial or municipal departments of social services.

Workers's Compensation

People injured while at work may be eligible to receive financial benefits, medical and rehabilitative services.

The provincial Workers' Compensation Board offices decide if you qualify for compensation, based on medical reports and proof that your injury was work-related.


British Columbia
Ministry of Social Services
614 Humboldt St., 7th Floor Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Tel.: 1-800-784-0055

Department of Family & Social Services
Income and Employment Programs
Employment and Training Initiatives
14th Floor, Seventh Street Plaza 10030 - 107th Street Edmonton, AB T5J 3E4
Tel.: (403) 427-2619

Department of Advanced Education & Career Development
Students Finance Board
Sterling Place, 6th Floor 9940 - 106th St. Edmonton, AB
Tel.: (403) 427-2740 1-800-222-6485

Saskatchewan Social Services
1920 Broad St., 11th floor Regina, SK S3P 3V6
Tel.: (306) 787-3494

Department of Family Services
114 Garry St., Room 305 Winnipeg, MB R3C 4V7
Tel.: (204) 945-2177

Ministry of Community and Social Services
7th Floor, Hepburn Block 80 Grosvenor St. Toronto, ON M7A 1E9
Tel.: (416) 325-5666

Ministere de l'emploi et de la solidarite
415 St-Roch, local 1.11 Montreal, QC H3N IK2
Tel.: (514) 873-6904

New Brunswick
Department of Human Resources Development
P.O. Box 6000 Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1
Tel.: (506) 453-2712

Nova Scotia
Department of Community Services
P.O. Box 696 Halifax, NS B3J 2T7
Tel.: (902) 424-4262

Prince Edward Island
Department of Health & Social Services
11 Kent St., 2nd Floor PO. Box 2000 Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8
Tel.: (902) 368-4900

Department of Social Services
P.O. Box 8700 St. John's, NF A1B 4J6
Tel.: (709) 729-0583











Migration to Canada
I An Introduction I Health I Housing I Welfare Schemes I Your Rights & Duties