By Sheryl Smolkin
Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca
Figuring out what government benefits you may be entitled to and what you have to do to get them can be daunting to say the least. In fact earlier this year Ellen Roseman reported on the findings of Canada’s task force on financial literacy that hundreds of thousands of us are missing out on almost $1 billion in pre-tax Old Age Security benefits alone.
So when I stumbled upon the Canadian government’s Benefits Finder website for the first time when I was doing some other research, I made a note to look at it more carefully when I had more time.
I discovered that The Benefits Finder home page allows you to search for available benefits in three user-friendly ways. You can click on one of the following descriptions of your status:
• A parent
• A student
• A senior
• A person with a disability
• A veteran
• A newcomer to Canada
• An Aboriginal person
• In need of financial assistance
You can pick one of the following life events:
- Divorce or separation
- Health concerns
- Tax concerns
- Starting a business
- Dealing with death
- Victim and legal concerns
Or, you can take a quiz that asks questions about your age and stage of life that will create a customized list of benefits you may be eligible for.
However you generate a list, it will include both federal programs and programs available in your province (which you can change). Each entry also includes further web links, toll-free and TTY telephone numbers.
When I clicked on “I am a parent” I was blown away. The comprehensive list that popped up, included better-known programs like the Canada Child Tax Benefit, the CPP Children’s Benefits and EI maternity and parental benefits. But it also included many programs I was not aware of such as:
- The Employment Insurance Family Supplement that provides additional benefits to low income families with children.
- The Ontario Child Care Supplement for Working Families.
- Healthy Smiles Ontario, a program for kids 17 and under who do not have access to any form of dental coverage. If you are eligible, your children will get regular dental services at no cost to you.
CanadaBenefits.gc.ca is a tremendous public service that should be more widely advertised. You owe it to yourself to check it out and spread the word. These programs were designed to meet specific objectives, and you may meet the eligibility criteria. You pay your taxes, so why not reap all of the benefits coming to you?