Financial Assistance in Alberta

Single mothers often have a tougher time than most.Everything that is usally shared by two parents falls on the shoulders of just one…You. When there are problems with the kids behavior, it’s you who has to sort it out. If the car breaks down, there’s no man around to fix it, so you have to take it to the garage and pay a mechanic. Then there are all the household bills, the rent or the mortgage to pay, the education fees to find…the list goes on and on. And all on a single income! There are times you wonder how on earth you are going to manage.

If this scenario seems familiar, you need a helping hand. The good news is that that helping hand is actually there, in Alberta. All you need now is the knowledge of where to find it and how to get it.

To begin with, here are a couple of links that contain lots of information about benefits you may be able to claim. The first is to the Benefits Canada site:

Then the second is to the website of Service Canada:

Between the province of Alberta and the Canadian government, there are lots of benefits on offer for single parents and hard up families.

 

Canada Child Tax Benefit

Canada Child Tax Benefit is a federal program, so it isn’t confined to single moms or parents in Alberta. You can get it wherever you are in Canada, as with all the federal programs outlined here.

This benefit is paid monthly, and it is completely tax free. It’s available to anyone who has a child under the age of 18 living with them, and who is the main carer for that child. You also must be a Canadian citizen or a legal resident of Canada.

The amount of the benefit depends on your situation, and comes in two parts: the National Child Benefit Supplement and the Child Disability Benefit. Of course, the second part will only be applicable if your child has a disability.

You might be wondering how to find out if you are eligible.  Eligibility rules are complex but it’s a good idea to apply anyway. If you are entitled to the benefits you will be informed.  Make your application as soon as you have given birth to your child, or when a child you are looking after moves into your home, or immediately you receive official confirmation of your Canadian residency.

You can apply in several ways…so choose the one that is best for you. In fact, if you signed up and agreed to the automatic benefits service, you can apply through that. Want to know more about this service? Check out here:

 

Or, you can apply online:

If you want to make a paper application, this is the link to follow:

 

 

Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit

Also known as the AFETC, the Alberta Family Employment Tax credit is a provincial program aimed at helping low and middle income families in the province. It offers an incentive for parents to continue working, while providing financial help to support the family. It’s index linked to inflation too. Even if your earnings climb, you can still receive the benefit, it just gradually reduces the amount payable according to what you bring in. The link you need is:

The eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • You must have one or more children under the age of 18 years.
  • You need to have been a resident of Alberta province for a minimum period of one month.
  • Your earnings at the time of application should not exceed the given limits for your household size.
  • You should be earning at least 2,760$ working income.

 

You don’t need to worry about how to apply for this one. The AFETC is automatically awarded to eligible families. You can expect to receive notification of your benefit around the end of July each year, assuming of course that you have completed and filed your tax assessment forms as usual.

 

Universal Child Care Benefit

 

Universal Child Care Benefit is another federal benefit, so it’s payable to all Canadian families resident in Canada with a child or children under the age of 6 (born after the 1st July 2006), irrespective of income levels or financial situation. You can use it for anything connected to the care of your child or children, so if you need child care or school equipment for your child, this is very useful. It is taxable, but single moms will be taxed as two parent families. It offers 100$ per month. You may not even need to apply, as if you already get Canada Tax Benefit your application for UCCB will be made automatically. If not, this is what to do:

Get online at the website of the Canada Revenue Agency:

Or, get along to your local Service Canada Center:

Or, call 1-800-387-1193

 

RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan

The Canada RESP is a way of saving for your child’s future education. It’s really worth trying to put in place, because once you’ve got an RESP set up for your child, he or she also becomes eligible to receive extra help and other benefits. You, your family and friends can all contribute to the fund, which has a lifetime limit of 50,000$. And, it can run for up to 36 years, so your child doesn’t have to rush to finish his or her studies! The cash from this fund can be used to help finance any of your child’s educational costs, including full or part time courses, apprenticeships, college courses or university degrees. And tax is only payable on monies that are disbursed from the fund, not on contributions made or funds that remain held within the RESP. So, an RESP makes really sound financial sense.

To find what you need to know about choosing the best promoter for your RESP, follow the link below. Make sure that you choose the right promoter for your needs or you and your child could lose out on benefits in the future.

All you need to apply is a Social Insurance Number…both your child and the promoter need one of these.

You can find out more about an RESP and how to set one up on the link below:

Once more, this is a federal program and not tied to any one province.

 

Canada Education Savings Grant

Staying with federal assistance programs for another: you can get all the information about the the Canada Education Savings Grant here:

This is a very helpful grant. It pays you an extra 20% on your RESP contributions to help you even further on the way to financing a good education for your child. If you’re a low to middle income family, you can be paid an extra 10% or 20% on the first 500$ of contributions made every year added onto your CESG as described above. This can continue until your child is 17 years of age.

All youngsters of up to 17 are eligible for this, as long as they meet the criteria of being Canadian citizens and have a RESP already set up.

NB:  Once more, make sure that you choose your promoter with care. Check the link given above ( http://www.canlearn.ca/eng/saving/resp/index.shtml) and be sure your promoter offers all the services you require.

 

Canada Learning Bond

Yet another example of federal help for families is the Canada Learning Bond. This one can also help you pay educational costs through savings schemes. It is a federal incentive program, aimed at making it straightforward  for struggling families to get more out of the RESP scheme. It will contribute 500$ into your child’s RESP, whatever your level of contributions (even if you aren’t able to make any!). From then on, up until your child reaches 15 years of age, 100$ is deposited into the RESP. If the costs of setting up the RESP are a concern, an additional 25$ can be put forward to help with that too.

To be eligible for the Canada Learning Bond:

  • Your child must have been born after 31st of December 2003.
  • You need to be receiving your National Child Benefit Supplement.

When you open your RESP, as before, be sure to check that the promoter you choose offers this option or you won’ be able to take advantage of this bond.

 

Alberta Centennial Education Savings Plan Access

It’s back to the province for this one. The Alberta Centennial Education Savings Plan Access is a grants program that offers 500$ , deposited into the RESP, for any child who is a native of, or resident of, Alberta. Further payments can also be made as the child reaches certain ages, so it could be worth up to 800$!

For your child to be eligible for this help, he or she needs to have been born in (or currently  live in) Alberta with a date of birth in or after 2005. Ask your RESP promoter for the application forms. More details here:

Or you can call, if you prefer:

  • 1-866-515-2237. Calls are toll free.

 

Alta Child Care Subsidy Program

Staying with help that is specifically for residents of Alberta province, we come to the Alta Child Care Subsidy program. The assistance is offered through the Alberta Children and Youth Services, and it gives financial help to lower income families who have to use child care services. All children who live in Alberta and are under the age of 12 (or lower than grade 7 in school) will qualify.

For more information, call or go online:

And, for the application forms, go to:

 

Alberta Child Health Benefit

Alberta also offers assistance with health care to its resident families in need. It covers health services that aren’t normally covered under the province’s standard scheme. This means you can get assistance with things like our children’s optical needs, dental treatments and the costs of medical prescriptions.  A maximum family income of 24,397$ is allowed for one child in order to qualify, or 39,336$, for example, if you have four kids. However, there are certain individual circumstances that can override these limits, so it’s worth inquiring anyway even if your income exceeds the amounts given.

As long as your children are under the age of 18 years and live full time in Alberta, they should qualify. But, if you are receiving certain other benefits you cannot apply for this one. So, check the list below and don’t apply if you already get any of these.

  •  Income Support
  • Alberta Adult Health Benefit
  • Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped
  • Alberta Child Financial Support Program
  • Canadian government programs for Inuit or Indian ethnicities.

Full information and details of how to apply can be found on this link:

 

Alta Early Childhood Services and Special Needs

This is help for anyone who lives in Alberta and whose child (under the age of 6 years)  has been certificated as having special needs. You’;ll need the recommendation and application to come from a teacher or other school approved person though.

For full information on this, go to:

 

Alta Family Support for Children with Disabilities

This scheme offers help in a number of ways to families with a disabled child. It can also give reimbursements for things like the cost of special equipment in the home or adaptations to the car.

To get to know more about this, there’s a toll free helpline that you can call:

  • 1-866-346-4661 (between 8am and 8pm on weekdays, or between 8am and 4pm on Saturdays.

 

Nobody’s Perfect

You might have heard of a federal program called a program called ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, and wondered what it was and if it could be of assistance to you. Have a look here to find out:

It is useful for you if you are a single mom, have a low income or you are experiencing other difficulties and feeling lost and isolated. Group meetings help you to meet others in a similar situation as you, and give you access to expert advice on important relevant topics like health and parenting skills. You can go along if your child is under 5.

Find out more about ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ and how to apply here at the appropriate office for your locality:

 

Alta Child Support Services

This gives aid with child support to Albertan parents who receive Income Support, Alberta Adult Health Benefit, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped or who are living on family incomes of agreed levels. It can help to trace a missing parent, establish paternity if appropriate, and enforce payments. There should be no pre existing support order, and you will need a child support worker’s recommendation to say that the other parent can potentially make payments.

Get to know more on this by calling :

  • 310-0000

or go online:

 

Alta Child and Youth Support Program

Alberta’s Child and Youth Support program is for kids and young people who can’t be cared for in their parental homes for any reason. So, if you are the carer for a child like this who is living with you, it’s worth knowing about. Both you and the young person may be eligible to receive this assistance if the following apply:

  • You have private guardianship of the child or his/her parents have filled in a consent form.
  • The child or young person is less than 18 years of age.
  • The child’s income (or other benefits) doesn’t reach above the agreed limits.
  • The young person is in full time education, training or employment.
  • The child lives with you full time.
  • The child’s real parent or guardian does not live with you and the child.
  • You do not live on reserve. (There may be different programs for you in this case)

Contacts can be made as follows for this program. It is recommended that you take expert advice from your case worker as these situations can be complex and unique to circumstances.

 

Employment Insurance

A federal program called EI…Employment Insurance will cover you for the loss of your job for a number of reasons. Perhaps you’ve been laid off from your employment due to job cuts, you’ve fallen sick or had an accident and become disabled, or just can’t find a job. As long as your unemployment isn’t your fault, you should be able to claim if you have this cover.

The insurance pays around 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum payout of 468$ a week. You can claim for 14 to 45 weeks, but it’s dependant on how many insurable working hours you have accrued in the previous 52 week period. It’s also worth noting that if you manage to get back into work before you’ve used up all the benefit, you can keep the rest to use in the future should you meet with more employment problems. It is also important to keep a provable written record of your attempts to find work during your period on the benefits.

So, are you eligible? You are if you have:

  • Paid your Employment Insurance premiums
  • Have become unemployed through circumstances not under your control and not your fault.
  • Have received no pay for work nor been in work for seven consecutive days or more during the pervious year
  • Have accrued enough insurance hours to qualify during the last year or since the beginning of  your last EI claim.

You can apply online …see the link below:

Or you can go to a Service Canada Center.

 

Employment Insurance Family Supplement

This is an additional feature of the Employment Insurance as explained above. It offers you extra benefits if you are a child’s carer on a low income, and you lose your employment leaving you really struggling. It’s really worth having as it pays up to a massive 80% of your insurable earnings, so if you’re eligible ( you need to receive Canada Child Tax and have an income of below 25,921$ ), it can really help.And, you don’t even have to worry about filling in forms to apply for the supplement as it will simply be added to your existing EI if you meet the criteria.

 

Child Rearing Drop Out Provision

Here’s another useful federal program.

You probably already know that on your retirement from work (or if you have to stop work due to disability) you will become entitled to your basic benefits from the Canada Pension Plan. And, when you’re gone, your kids can benefit from this.  But did you also know that if you have to drop out of work (thus decreasing your pension entitlement) because you have children to raise, you can take advantage of the Child Rearing Drop Out Provision to offset these losses. You can apply for CRDP at the same time as you apply for your CPP, but be aware it takes about 6 months before you’ll start receiving your benefits.

Your  CRDP is payable for any months when you either received your National Child Benefit payments or were eligible for the Canada Child Tax Benefit. Your earnings have to have been lower than normal during this time due to you having had to stop working or work fewer hours in order to care for your children. (Children need to have been seven years of age or less to count.) Finally, to qualify, your child has to have been born after the 31st of December 1958.

To find out more, here’s the link.

To make your application online, click here:

And, this link will take you to a site that tells you your nearest Service Canada Office where you can pop in to pick up an application kit.

 

Canada Pension Plan Children’s Benefits

If your parents are now deceased or have become disabled, you could be eligible for Children’s Benefits as long as your parents made sufficient contributions during their lifetimes/working lives. CPP Children’s Benefits give you an extra monthly pay out of an amount ascertained by the level of their previous contributions. You can have a look at the charts to see what those levels and pay out amounts could be here:

As long as your parents did make sufficient contributions, you’ll be eligible if you are between 18 and 25 and attending full time school or college at an approved educational institution, or if you’re under 18. Here’s how to apply:

Full information is available on the following link:

So, there’s a lot to think about if you are a single mom or a parent on low income in Alberta. Take your time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it to sort out exactly what benefits you are entitled to. The federal and provincial programs detailed above can make a lot of difference to your family’s lives, so don’t miss out on anything.

  • Michelle Heusser

    I’d suggest that you check your links. A lot of the links are for american assistance, not Canadian and not alberta.