Government benefits that no one knows about

Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits reportedly go unclaimed. Many people who are entitled to benefits don't even apply. These are some government benefits you may have missed.

Government benefits that no one knows about

Employment assistance

  • Minimize any loss of income by claiming benefits as soon as possible.
  • Pay crucial bills first — rent, property tax, electricity and gas.
  • Get advice from a credit counselling service regarding any remaining creditors.
  • Once your finances are safe, start job hunting.

In sickness and in health

  • Find out which benefits apply to your situation and claim as soon as you can.
  • The Opportunities Fund for Persons With Disabilities prepares the disabled to get a job.
  • The Residential Rehabilitation for the Disabled program offers forgivable loans that help disabled people with housing.

Maternity benefits

  • You can collect maternity benefits for a total of 50 weeks of paid leave. To receive maternity or parental benefits, you must have worked 600 hours in the last 52 weeks, or since your last claim. Your payments are considered taxable income, meaning federal, provincial or territorial taxes will be deducted.
  • You need to prove your pregnancy by signing a statement declaring the expected due or actual date of birth.
  • Maternity benefits can be collected within 17 weeks of the actual or expected week of birth, whichever is later.
  • If the actual date of birth is different from the expected date of birth (which it frequently is), provide the date to Employment Insurance Canada (EI) as soon as possible after the birth of your child.

Benefits for the bereaved

  • Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits are paid to a deceased contributor's estate, surviving spouse or common-law partner and dependent children. Your spouse or partner must have contributed to CPP for a minimum of three years.
  • The death benefit is a one-time payment to, or on behalf of, the estate of a deceased Canada Pension Plan contributor. As with most CPP benefits, the amount depends on how much, and for how long, you paid into the Canada Pension Plan. The death benefit is equal to six months' worth of this calculated retirement pension, up to a maximum of $2,500.
  • The survivor's pension is a monthly pension paid to the surviving spouse or common-law partner of a deceased contributor. You may also be eligible for the benefit if you are a separated legal spouse and there is no cohabiting common-law partner, or if your deceased same-sex common-law partner contributed to the Canada Pension Plan.
  • The children's benefit is a monthly benefit for dependent children of a deceased contributor. The child must be either under age 18 or between the ages of 18 and 25, and in full-time attendance at a school or university. The monthly children's benefit is a flat rate that is adjusted annually.

The government has many programs to help those in need of financial assistance, but many of these programs fly under the radar. This is just a sampling of the under-used programs that could help you in times of need.

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