Family Benefits in Canada

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Parenting can be a tough job. It becomes even more challenging to live on a budget, especially in these pandemic times. Not having enough money to cover everything you want means you have to cut costs and trim your budget down to the essentials. However, sometimes, even that isn't sufficient.

Surveys suggest that financial challenges stress a considerable percentage of Canadian families. About 38% of Canadians admit that money is their leading source of stress. A survey reveals that 65% of Canadians polled mentioned that financial stress had caused numerous other health challenges and marital problems. It’s no surprise that Canadians worry about retirement and job loss in this pandemic era.

Difficulty in meeting financial obligations quickly leads to more financial problems. Many families are turning to payday loans that can lead to further financial difficulties if not used carefully. Even if loans can help, a lack of reliable income complicates the entire situation.

Families in this situation might not be aware of the benefits and programs that have been created to alleviate circumstances of this nature. Before and after the pandemic struck, certain programs have been put in place to help families out, whether single-parent families or where both parents are present. Knowing about these programs and how to access them will go a long way in helping families to live better lives.

These benefits have offered families a leeway into financial sustenance. At the very least, it affords an opportunity to meet the financial burden that many families have to deal with during hard times.

Qualifying for Family Benefits in Canada

Before you can access the benefit programs available for families in Canada, you’ll need to understand the qualification requirements. Essentially, the first step is to apply for the program and submit the necessary details requested.

You’ll have to prove that you cater to the needs of your children and that they live with you. Additionally, you’ll also need to provide some employment details alongside revealing your income. The needed information is pretty much the same or similar across all the benefit programs that will be discussed in this guide.

We’ve researched the relevant benefit programs you can take advantage of as a family. You can look towards these programs if you need money to meet some of your financial obligations as a Canadian family. The programs are listed below.

Canadian Government Benefit Programs

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Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)

The Canadian Education Savings Grant is established for Registered Education Savings Plan. The money contributed to this program is to pay the cost of a child’s education after high school. Some of the applicable educational places include:

  • Universities
  • College
  • Apprenticeship programs

This program provides parents or guardians with an avenue to save up for children’s education. But more importantly, it comes with the added benefit of either a 10% or 20% match to the money contributed per child. Since up to $500 can be contributed per year, this means each child is entitled to either $50 or $100 per year. The highest amount CESG can offer a child, including the added 10% or 20%, is $7,200.

Many Canadian families take advantage of the CESG to meet the financial needs of their children’s education. The program recorded nearly 250,000 new entrants in 2020.

Getting started with the program is pretty straightforward. You only need to fill out the application form, which is straightforward and only takes a few minutes. The one prerequisite is before you can request the CESG, you must first have a funded RESP.

A child is entitled to the CESG up until the child turns 18. However, children aged 16 or 17 are subject to certain eligibility restrictions.

Canada Learning Bond

Canada Learning Bond is another program that shares similarities with Canada Education Savings Grant. This benefit program offers parents or guardians another way to contribute to their children’s educational needs. The government adds some money to an already-created RESP to support the studies of a child after they graduate from high school.

The government adds up to $2,000 to the RESP. Out of this amount, $500 is for the first eligible year while $100 is dedicated to every year the child remains eligible until the age of 15. Two key things that will determine eligibility for the CLB are the parent’s or primary giver’s adjusted income and the number of qualified children in a family.

Other eligibility requirements include:

  • The child must be from a low-income family
  • Must reside in Canada
  • Date of birth must be on or after 1 January 2004
  • Hold a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Have an RESP

Canada Workers Benefit (CWB)

The Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) was designed to support families and individuals earning a low income. This is another program that families can consider to get some extra funds for meeting their financial obligations. Eligible families can claim the CWB, following the filing of their income tax return. However, where a family cannot afford to wait for the tax period, such a family can get half of the payment in advance.

Eligibility for the CWB is based on the following:

  • The individual must earn an income from working
  • The individual must reside in Canada throughout the year
  • Must be at least 19 years of age

Under this benefit program, for someone to be considered your dependant, they must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be your child or the child of your common-law partner
  • Must be under 19 years of age
  • Must not be eligible for the benefit program

Families can receive up to $2,379 in CWB payments. Notably, the ultimate amount that a family can receive will be based on the province in question. Additionally, you should note that one of the fundamental requirements of this payment is that the family must be in the low-income category. Once the income starts to increase, the CWB payments will begin to diminish.

Canada Child Benefit

If you’re primarily responsible for the care of a child under the age of 18 years, then you can proceed to apply for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB). Families with children fall under this category if the children are below the eligibility age.

The CCB is a tax-free payment that families can take advantage of to offset the financial burden of taking care of their children. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is in charge of the program. The agency makes the payment on a monthly basis to eligible individuals and families. Notably, you won’t be eligible for CCB if the child in question is under your foster care. Additionally, the child must not be currently receiving children's special allowances (CSA).

Generally, the female parent will be considered as the primary caregiver to the child. This means that she has to apply for the benefit. However, where the female parent is not the only primary caregiver, the application must include a signed letter stating the facts accordingly.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

The Canada Recover Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) was created to provide some form of financial assistance to individuals whose work has been affected because they have to care for their children due to COVID-19. To qualify for this benefit, the individual in question must be employed or self-employed and the child must be under 12 years of age.

Additionally, a family can only apply for this benefit program when the child’s school is currently unavailable due to the COVID-19 virus. This would mean that the parent or primary caregiver must necessarily be present to take care of the child.

This benefit program pays each eligible household $500 (before tax) per valid week. The CRA shall deduct a 10% tax on this amount. This means that each household will receive $450 accordingly. Additionally, the payments shall only run between 27 September, 2020 and 7 May, 2022.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

In a similar manner to the CRCB, the CRSB is a program created to offer financial support for individuals whose work has been suspended because of COVID-19. Having the virus means you have to self-isolate and observe all necessary protocols to stay safe. To make things as convenient as possible, the CRA administers the CRSB — a sum of $450 post-tax — for a 1-week period.

To enjoy this benefit on a long-term basis, the individual must reapply for as long as they have the virus. This benefit program provides families with a way to cover their medical expenses in case a family member contracts the virus. This will ease the financial burden that would have otherwise been on the household.

Tax Adjustment Benefits

Tax Form T1213

While there are benefit programs for families looking to access some extra funds, there are a few other less-considered ways to save some money. The Tax Form T1213 is designed to help you reduce your income tax deduction. By implication, you get to save some money that you can utilize to meet your financial demands.

Some of the costs where this form is applicable include childcare, legal, and medical expenses. As a family, childcare and medical expenses are some of the biggest financial needs to meet. Therefore, with a form that allows for tax reduction on those, you can create some breathing space for yourself.

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Disability Tax Credit and Benefits

When you’re eligible for tax credits, you can save a lot on the amount of tax you’re to pay. Often, many Canadian families don’t look too deep to consider the tax credits they might be eligible for. Getting tax credits will make a notable addition to your funding and help you meet some of your demands.

Additionally, there are child disability benefits worthy of consideration if you have a child with an impairment. The benefit is a tax-free payment that you’ll receive monthly to cater to the needs of the child. Some of the eligibility requirements here include:

Essentially, this is another way for families to meet their financial obligations during hard times.

Provincial Programs

In looking for federal benefit programs, you should also look into provincial programs that can be highly helpful. Every province has its own set of family benefits, many of which we have researched for you in our provincial family benefit guides.

Estimate Your Expected Benefits

Families apply for benefits with the aim to cover some of their expenses and meet crucial financial obligations. As such, it is important to have an estimate of the potential benefits you might receive when applying. To help with this, the government provides a convenient child and family benefits calculator online.

To have an estimate of what to expect, you’ll have to enter some information into the calculator. Some of these include the age of children, employment status, earning working income, among others. The calculator will then run it through and produce an estimate.

Using this calculator offers you a decent estimation of your benefits. This will allow you to plan adequately based on what you might be paid.

Maximize Benefit Programs

The pandemic has been a challenging period for many families. Taking care of children and meeting the financial obligations of a family are some of the toughest things to handle. This is especially so in a country where the cost of raising a child ranges between $10,000 and $15,000 yearly.

These benefit programs are structured to provide financial assistance to families for a long period. If you find yourself eligible for any or more than one of these benefits, you should consider reading up and applying accordingly, and if at any time you need a little bit of help covering bills you can always get a loan in Canada for up to $1,500 from My Canada Payday.