It’s a fact of life that single mothers get a raw deal at times. You’ve got your kids, and that’s great. But you’ve also got all the work, and all the worry. Nothing comes easy. While married moms have a partner to share the hard times with, single moms have to sort out all the problems for themselves. That means teaching the kids the difference between good and bad behavior, making sure they do their homework and getting them to and from their sports clubs or after school activities. Then there’s all the housework, the car maintainance and paying the bills. On top of that, you need to go out to work. And, to go out to work, you need somone to take care of the kids. Cue, more bills to pay.
It seems never ending. But, imagine how much better life could be if you had some help with those bills and expenses? If there were somewhere that you could go to get help and advice, and a hand to pay for the things your family needs? What a difference that might make!
Well, if you are a single mom who lives in Nova Scotia, there are places to turn to find that help. There are both provincial and federal programs that can help you to get back on track, and programs that offer extra help if your child has special needs, medical requirements or other help. Now, all you need is to know what help there is, and how to get it.
The programs detailed below are family based, but Canada does have other programs that you may be eligible for that could also offer assistance. To check these out, look at the links below to Service Canada and Benefits Canada.
- Benefits Canada http://www.canadabenefits.gc.ca/f.1.2ch.4m.2@.jsp?lang=eng
- Service Canada http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/home.shtml
The programs listed below are marked either (Provincial), in which case they are only for residents of Nova Scotia, or (Federal), meaning that they are available to all qualifying residents of Canada, no matter what province you live in.
Early Intervention Programs (Provincial)
This is a program for Nova Scotians who have children with developmental delay problems. The problems may include such conditions as autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but it doesn’t matter if your child hasn’t been diagnosed with one of these conditions. You are eligible for the help offered by this program if you have child who is deemed at risk of a developmental difficulty, who has been diagnosed with one or who has any sort of predisposition to such a problem. If you think your child is at risk of developing problems or has already shown symptoms, you can ask for a referral to the Early Intwervention program from your specialist health or education worker. So, ask your speech therapist, doctor, early developmental professional or whoever is most appropriate to issue the referral.
You should live in Nova Scotia.
The programs are free, and offer home based, individually designed programs for your child’s particular needs. To find out more, you can ask at your local Community Services office. Here’s how to find your office.
Services for persons with disabilities (Provincial)
This is the program for anyone who has disabilities, be they a child, adult or young person. The disablities may be physical, developmental, intellectual or involve mental illness. There is a range of services on offer, depending on what is most appropriate for the individual concerned.
- Alternative Family Support
This program helps the client (child or adult) to live in a family environment, in a family home, assuming this is the best possible setting for him or her to develop as well as possible.
- Independent Living Support
Independent Living Support aims to support the disabled client in their own home, rather than have to place them in residential care. Up to 21 hours of help is possible on this program.
- Approved Community Based Homes
If living independantly or in the family home is not a possible solution for the disabled person, this program tried to find the best possible community home for them. The program aims to place individuals in carefully chosen community homes where they can develop to their full potential, free of too many restrictions and thus avoid institutionalization.
- Licensed Home for Special Care
Under this scheme, clients are placed in either group homes, residential care homes, adult residential centres or regional rehabilitation centres. Again, care is taken to find the best possible setting for each individual.
Direct Family Support (Provincial)
This program is also for Nova Scotia residents only.The program operates under the
banner of the Department of Community Services, and is aimed at helping to keep disabled people, whatever their age, within the family home. It offers the support necessary to do this for all the family. Any disablities that incur higher than normal (as in, above the costs expected to be normal for a family without a disabled dependent) costs are included in the scheme. So, to be eligible, the person mst have special needs for support for their condition. For example, a person with a physical disability that requires assistance with basic daily functions like washing, feeding and adaptation of the home would be considered eligible. Any condition requiring special equipment in the home (hoists, ramps etc) may also receive funding under this scheme, as would a condition requiring special transportation. It isn’t just physical disabilities that count, either: Developmental delays, mental illnesses, or intellectual problems can also be counted.
The help is available to children of under 19, but they must live at home in the family. Adults of over 19 can also be helped by the program if they live at home. All applicants have to be residents of the province of Nova Scotia. Your income has to be proven to be at a certain level, and the condition has to be diagnosed and verified by a doctor. The link below contains all th information about the program and what you need to qualify for it.
If this would help you to cope with the costs of caring for a disabled family member, you need to get in touch with your nearest Community Services office. You’ll get details of where the offices are here:
There will be a financial assessment to establish your level of need.
Canada Child Tax Benefit (Federal)
This benefit is paid monthly, and comes to you completely tax free. It’s intended to help anyone who has a child under the age of 18 living with them, and who is the main carer for that child. You also need to be a Canadian citizen or legal resident.
The final amount of the benefit varies according to your situation, and consists of two parts: the National Child Benefit Supplement and the Child Disability Benefit. Of course, the second part will only be applicable if you have a disabled child.
So, how do you apply…and how do you know if you are eligible? The best advice seems to be not to worry about eligibility, just go ahead and make the application and let the authorities decide if you could qualify, as eligibility rules are complex and can be confusing. Better to try and fail than not to try and miss out! The time to make the application is as soon as you give birth to a child, or when a child you are looking after moves into your home, or immediately you receive official Canadian residency. Don’t waste time.
You can apply in several ways…so choose the one that is applicable to you. In fact, if you signed up and agreed to the automatic benefits service, you can apply through that. Not sure about this service? Check out here:
Or, you can apply online:
If you prefer making an application on paper, then this is the link for you:
Child Disability Benefit (Federal)
If you’ve got a seriously disabled child, you can get more help through the Child Disability Benefit. The disability can be physical or mental, but it does need to be classed as serious (and likely to last for at least a year) to confer eligibility.
If your disabled child is under 18 and you are the main carer for that child, this will pay you up to 2,740$ a year. To apply, first you will need a certificate from your doctor. You need to complete a form, as does your doctor. You can download the form from the following link:
It’s best to make sure you have completed and filed your tax return before you apply for the disability benefit or you could find there is a delay in processing your application. This is then sent to the Canada Revenue Agency for approval. Once approved, your payments can begin, and these are paid monthly.And, they’re tax free.
Nova Scotia Child Benefit (Provincial)
Payable monthly, and completely tax free, the Nova Scotia Child Benefit program is added to your existing Canada Child Tax Benefit. So, assuming you are already in that program, you don’t need to make a separate application. But, don’t forget to send off your tax forms every year, as these are a necessary requirement. If you do not already get the CCTB you should apply as soon as possible.
What this program does is to offer extra monthly payments for each child in the family, of up to 37.08$ for the first child, 53.75$ for the second child, and 60$ per month for any after that. If you are a Nova Scotia resident and you are eligible for CCTB you will be able to receive help from NSCB too.
Universal Child Care Benefit (Federal)
Universal Child Care Benefit is 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. The UCCB is taxable, but single moms will be taxed as two parent families. If you are married or living with the other parent, the benefit will be paid to whichever of you earns the least. 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 Centre:
Or, call 1-800-387-1193
Nova Scotia Child Care Subsidy (Provincial)
Child care can be a nightmare for single mothers. Most single parent families really struggle to survive on one wage, and if yo’ve got to fork out enormous amounts for quality child care just so you can go to work (probably not earning much more than the cost of child care anyway!”) you may wonder why you bother at times. So, this provincial program that offers subsidized child care can be a real boost to your income, your career and your spirits!
Under this program, you can choose the child care provider as long as it is licensed and approved. The subsidy, if you are eligible, is paid direct to the facility you use. You can even change providers if you need to, as the subsidy is based on your child or children not the facility itself. The amount that you receive is based on your needs and circumstances, so you will have to foot the bill for any remaining fees yourself. Also note that you need to be reassessed each year. If circumstances change…financially or in your child’s condition (if any medical or other special needs are involved) , notify the authority.
To qualify for this program, your child has to be under the age of twelve years. Eligibility is also assessed on household income, any savings or liquid assets you may hold, your residency status in Nova Scotia and your number of dependent children.You will also need to show that you have a need for child care…this means proving that you go out to work, to college or for medical treatments.
You can get an application form on the following link:
or contact your nearest Community Services office …you can find the details here:
RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan (Federal)
If you’ve got an RESP set up for your child, he or she also becomes eligible to receive extra help and benefits. So, it makes really good sense to get one in place as soon as you can. You, your family and friends can all contribute to the fund, which has a lifetime limit of 50,000$. And, it can run for up to 36 years, so your child doesn’t have to hurry up to finish his studies! The money from this fund can be used to help finance any of your child’s educational costs: Full or part time courses, apprenticeships, college courses or university degrees. And tax is only payable on the funds that are actually disbursed from the fund, not on contributions made or funds that remain held within the RESP. So, an RESP makes sound financial sense.
To find what you need to know about choosing the best promoter for your RESP, follow the link below. It’s really important to choose the right one for your needs or you and your child could lose out on cash in the future.
All you need to apply is a Social Insurance Number…both your child and the promoter need one of these.
You can find out more about an RESP and how to set one up on the link below:
Canada Education Savings Grant (Federal)
This is a plan that pays out 20% on your RESP contributions to help you even further on the way to a good education for your child. If you’re a low to middle income family too, you can be paid an extra 10% or 20% on the first 500$ 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 basic criteria of being Canadian citizens and have a RESP already in place.
Don’t forget: choose your promoter with care. Check the link given above in the section on the RESP, and be sure your promoter offers all the services you require.
Canada Learning Bond (Federal)
The Canada Learning Bond can also help you pay educational costs through savings schemes. It is a federal incentive program, aimed at making it simpler for hard up families to get involved with the RESP scheme. It will contribute 500$ into your child’s RESP, whatever your level of contributions. After that, up until he or she 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.
If all this extra help would make a difference to your family’s lives, then this is what you need to qualify:
- 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, be sure to check that the promoter you choose offers this option or you won’ be able to take advantage of this bond.
Nobody’s Perfect (Federal)
‘Nobody’s Perfect’ is a program that aims to help single parents get together and understand the help that’s available to them. It provides practical help rather than financial assistance.
It is aimed at you if you are a single mom, have a low income or you are experiencing other difficulties and feeling lost and alone. Group meetings help you not just to meet others in a similar situation as you, but also gives you access to expert advice on topics like health and parenting skills. You can go along if your child is under 5. It’s a great way of building up a support network of other parents and also professionals that can be there for you throughout your child rearing years and even throughout life.
Find out more about ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ and how to apply here at the appropriate office for your locality:
Child Rearing Drop Out Provision (Federal)
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 normally 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 less 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 details your nearest Service Canada Office where you can pop in to grab an application kit.
Canada Pension Plan Children’s Benefits (Federal)
If your parents are now deceased or have become disabled, you could be eligible for Children’s Benefits as long as your parents made sufficent 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:
Employment Insurance (Federal)
Employment Insurance can cover you if you should lose your job for a number of reasons. It could be that you’ve been laid off due to job cuts, become sick or disabled, or just if you can’t find a job in spite of trying your best. 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 dependent on how many insurable working hours you 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 suffer further employment problems. It is also important to keep a provable 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 Centre.
Employment Insurance Family Supplement (Federal)
This is an additional feature of the Employment Insurance as explained above. It offers you even more benefits if you are a carer who has 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.
Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communitites. (Federal)
If you are Inuit, First Nation or Métis in origin and you live off reserve, this is for you. It offers classes in aboriginal culture and language, education and preparation for school, health, nutrition, parenting and general support.
If you live on reserve, there’s a similar program for you.
To find out how to apply, follow the link below:
So, as you can see from all the information above, if you live in Nova Scotia and are finding it tough making ends meet or just coping with life as a single mom or a mother in difficult circumstances, there’s a lot of help you could be getting. Apply as soon as you are able, so you don’t miss out on any of it.