Family Benefits in Alberta

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Being a parent can be an exciting journey. However, it can get tough on your finances. Parenting is accompanied by loads of bills, emergencies, and school fees, all of which can hamper your finances. This is more so if you're already struggling financially. Notably, the pandemic has led to inflation and an increase in the cost of living, which means many parents currently have it tough.

Despite data showing that Albertans have higher income than many other Canadian provinces, they still have it tough. About 46% of Albertans indicate that they are worse off financially than before the pandemic. According to a Personal Finance Index created by the Angus Reid Institute, about 24% of Albertans are “financially suffering.”

As expected, the largest percentage of those polled are people from low-income households. Most of these people are also aged 31-54, showing that financial responsibilities are weighing Albertan families down. So it’s no surprise that 40% of Albertans have difficulty paying their debts back, a percentage that's higher than any other province.

The situation is dire. While payday loans might be ab option to solve these challenges, they are only temporary fixes and still need to be paid back. Ultimately, the government has designed several benefits to help alleviate Albertan families. However, if you do not research, you might not know about these intervention schemes and benefit programs.

Even for those aware, knowing how to start or where to go can be challenging. Therefore, one must have a basic knowledge of accessing these benefits to maximize them. This article provides comprehensive knowledge of the relevant benefits available to families in Alberta and how you can apply conveniently.

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Qualifying for Family Benefits in Alberta

The first step to accessing any of the family benefits in Alberta is to understand the basic requirements expected of applicants. As with anything, these requirements will determine whether or not you are eligible for the schemes.

While each family benefit may have its peculiarities, some basic requirements will likely be compulsory regardless of the benefit you’re considering. First, being a resident of Alberta and Canada is a must. Additionally, you should also have children or dependents who live with you. Finally, while there may be other kinds of benefits available to unemployed people, most family benefits require you to have some form of income.

Below is a list of well-researched benefits available to Albertan families. These benefits can go a long way in helping you mitigate your financial challenges.

Albertan Government Benefit Programs

Alberta Child Health Benefit (ACHB)

The Alberta Child Health Benefit is a benefit program set up by the provincial government to assist low-income families with prescription drugs, eyeglasses, and dental care for their kids. This benefit is available to kids until they reach the age of 18. However, children who are 18 or 19 but are still living with their parents and attending high school can still benefit from this scheme. This benefit also extends to providing emergency ambulance services, diabetes supplies, and other essential over-the-counter forms of medication.

Your family must reside in Alberta and have permanent residence in Canada to qualify for this scheme. You also need not be a recipient of other listed health benefits. More importantly, your family income must not exceed certain specified amounts. You can apply to have your household income calculated here.

The most important thing is to double-check whether this benefit works for you, especially since it excludes beneficiaries of other schemes. Once you have decided on applying, you can download this application form.

Alberta Income Support

The Alberta Income Support is a scheme available to low-income families and individuals to aid them in paying for certain expenses. This program helps struggling families cover basic amenities like food, clothing, and shelter. This program is comfortably extensive and can assist with any area you may have difficulties.

You may apply to get money to cover several things such as education, utility connection, special diets, unexpected emergencies, and others. Additionally, the program provides emergency income support that is accessible 24/7.

The process of getting income support takes about two weeks. Applicants have to live in Alberta and be at least 18 years of age. Your income must also not exceed:

  • $5,000 in Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSPs)
  • $10,000 equity in vehicles

All other requirements are listed in detail here. It is worth mentioning that beneficiaries of the Income Support may not receive the Alberta Child Health Benefit. This is because the Income Support program only takes account of a small portion of your earnings when calculating your benefit. This means that you get to keep your actual income while enjoying the support benefit.

To learn more about whether this benefit suits your family, you can visit an Alberta Support Centre to speak to your income support worker.

Alberta Child and Family Benefit (ACFB)

This provincial benefit is designed to assist low or middle-income parents in providing qualitative lives for their children. The best thing about the ACFB is that it can be complemented by other benefits, such as the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped or the Alberta income Support. This means that, unlike the ACHB, you can receive this benefit and still qualify for other benefits.

This benefit applies to children under 18 years. The family must be in the low or middle-income category. In addition, this benefit mandates that the family live in Alberta, have permanent residence in Canada, and meet the stipulated income requirements.

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The ACFB has two components:

  • The base component which is for low-income families that may or may not earn any employment income
  • The working component for families that earn above $2,760.

As a family's income grows, the family becomes eligible for a higher benefit. However, once a family’s net income exceeds $24,467 or $41,000, the benefit funds start to reduce.

The ACFB has the most straightforward process. No action is required beyond filing the annual tax return. But, notably, you would have to qualify for the Canada Child Care Benefit. Once these two requirements are met, the government either deposits or mails the funds directly in four instalments for the year.

You can read the Alberta Child and Family Benefit fact sheet to fully understand how this benefit works before you file a tax return.

Child Care Subsidy

The Child Care subsidy is a unique support program for low and middle-income families to help parents provide comprehensive child care to their kids. The Child Care Subsidy applies to parents of toddlers to help cover the expenses of dropping their kids at licensed child care centres to afford them time for work.

This plan is especially sensitive to the needs of new parents and covers kids from age 0 to Grade 6. The subsidy to be granted depends on the peculiarities of each family. For example, it can include household income, number of children, and the number of hours a child attends the child care centre.

For children attending these centres during regular school hours, the maximum household income is fixed at $180,000. For children attending outside normal school hours, the maximum household income to be eligible is $90,000. The government also provides support on how to find the right child care centre for your specific needs.

To be eligible for this subsidy, you must:

  • Live in Alberta.
  • Either be working, attending school, trying to find employment.
  • Your child must be in grade 6 or lower.
  • Your child should be enrolled in a licensed daycare, out-of-school facility, or an approved family day home.

You can apply for the child care subsidy by downloading this form. You will also need to submit a Consent Applicant Declaration and Acknowledgement Form. You may begin to receive your subsidy the month after your application is received. While you may use an online childcare subsidy estimator to determine the amount of subsidy you may receive, it is essential to note that the specific amount is subject to other calculations that the government may include.

Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD)

This is a unique form of support for families who have children with disabilities. This benefit allows parents to talk to government workers to identify the best areas in which they may need assistance for their households.

If you have two or more children with disabilities, you have to complete different forms for each of them.

To apply for this program, you must:

  • Be a resident of Alberta
  • The applicant must be the child's legal guardian.
  • The child must be below 18 years.
  • Get a medical report from a licensed health practitioner.
  • The letter must contain the child's personal information, medical diagnosis, impairment details, and the date of the report.

You must mail the above information to the nearest FSCD office for assessment. Then, two weeks after application, an FSCD worker will contact you to discuss your needs, peculiarities, and the support you may receive.

Other Benefits You May Apply For

Beyond benefits designed for low-income parents, there may be other benefits that can ease your financial constraints and make parenting or guardianship easier.

Child and Youth Support Program

The Child and Youth Support Program works in a slightly different way. This program provides support to children living in other households. For example, you may have guardianship of a relative's child or be a court-appointed guardian. This benefit allows you to provide comprehensive care to the child you’re responsible for. This benefit is also designed to ease the financial hardship on guardians by providing financial and medical support.

To qualify for this benefit:

  • You must have authorized guardianship of the child.
  • The child must be below 18 years of age.
  • You must not live with the parents of the child.
  • The child must be attending a recognized school or attending a full-time training program.
  • You must not live on-reserve.

This program provides both primary and supplementary benefits to guardians. The benefit can add up to $148 per month, depending on the child's age, and other forms of support are also provided. You can visit the nearest Child and Family Service Office to get detailed information about the application process for this benefit.

Non-Group Coverage

The non-group coverage provides health benefits to all Albertan residents. It applies to prescription drugs, diabetes supplies, home nursing care, clinical psychological services, hospital accommodation, mastectomy prosthesis, and ambulance services.

Families can get a full premium of up to $118 and a subsidized premium of about $83. Premium rates can be affected by your children reaching adult age or the death of a family member. This plan allows you to add unmarried children of up to 25 years of age who are still attending an accredited educational institute. You can also include a child of 21 years who is still wholly dependent on you due to mental impairment.

This applies to low-income families with a net income of less than $35,230. You can apply for the premium subsidy for the year by completing the Application for Alberta Blue Cross Non-Group Coverage Premium Subsidy.

To learn more about this subsidy and apply, you can contact the appropriate government officials here.

Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)

This comprehensive benefit is designed to assist Albertans living with permanent medical conditions that prevent them from getting a job.

This program is available to Albertan residents who are at least 18 years old but not old enough to receive an Old Age Security Pension. One must have been diagnosed with a medical condition of which no known cure exists. It's essential that this medical condition also substantially prevents the applicant from earning a living. People living in correctional or mental health facilities like the Alberta Hospital Edmonton are not eligible under this fund.

To determine income, AISH considers the income reported on your income tax form, your partner's income tax form, and the income tax form of any other relevant persons such as parents or adult children. However, the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) and the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) will not be calculated as part of your income. AISH also considers the assets of applicants. The considerable assets must not exceed $100,000. The AISH income consideration has unique features, and you can read up more on it here.

AISH beneficiaries are also expected to apply for every other benefit they are eligible for, such as the Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits and employment insurance. You can fill out this application form and submit it either online or at the nearest AISH office to apply for AISH. However, because of the complex nature of the application, it's best to visit the office to get detailed information. Once approved, you can get a living allowance, child benefits, medical benefits, and supplementary personal benefits.

Leverage on Alberta Family Benefit Programs

Financial strain is a real possibility for parents, especially as the size of your family increases. However, as a resident of Alberta, you can use the financial benefits available to tackle the effects of pandemic-induced inflation.

These benefit programs are designed to aid each family in providing wholesome care to their children without financial hassle. If you find yourself eligible for any of these benefits, you should do more research and apply accordingly and if funds are still a little tight at the end of the month then consider taking out a loan in Alberta with us.