It makes no difference where you live, in Canada or anywhere else in the world. If you are a single mother, you have more challneges to face than most. Without the support of a partner, all the child raising is up to you…you have to make sure your kids are well fed, supported through their education, kept safe and taught to be well behaved. It’s all down to you. Then you also have to take care of the home, the car (if you have one) and go out to work.
Most of these things just have to be done, there’s no way around them. But, if paying the bills is a worry…and chances are, if you’re a single mom surviving on one income, it will be, then wouldn’t it be good to know that there is some help available?
If you are a single mom, or a mom in difficult circumstances who lives in Ontario, there are a whole host of programs in place that can provide invaluable help and support. Both in financial terms, and practical terms. For example, if your child has special needs of any sort, there are programs to help you to get the assistance, guidance and funding that is required. If you’re on a low income and have children, more programs are designed to alleviate the burden of the costs of things like child care so you can get out to develop your career.
While the information below is mainly aimed at families and programs designed to specifically help them, there are other more general federal and provincial programs that you may also benefit from. So, check out the following links to Benefits Canada and Service Canada, and ask your local authorities too.
- 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
Moms who live in Ontario can find both federal and provincial help. The first programs detailed below are federal programs, so anyone who is a Canadian resident or has protected status can apply. The second listing is of provincial programs, specifically for residents of Ontario. Check them all out so you are sure not to miss anything you are entitled to.
Federal Family Assistance Programs (all Canadian residents)
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 on your entitlement! 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.
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
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. More practical than financial, it is nevertheless an invauluable program that you should really try to get involved with.
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:
Provincial Family Assistance Programs for Residents of Ontario
The following programs are for residents of Ontario only. Residency is a requirement for all.
Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (Provincial)
If you have a child who has severe disabilities, you need more help than moms whose children are healthy. Not just practical help and advice is needed, but also help to cope with the extra expense conferred by a disability. With this program, you could receive (according to need and circumstances) anywhere between 25$ to 440$ every month to help offset those costs.
The assistance is available if you have expenses like these:
- Transport to and from the doctors, hospital or clinic for treatments and consultations.
- Respite care.
- Special equipment such as wheelchairs or hoists.
- Repairs to necessary equipment.
- Special clothing or surgical shoes.
- Dental care
- Optical care
- Prescription drugs or necessary medical suplies.
Your child will be eligible for this assistance if he or she is under 18, lives at home with you and has a documented disability…requiring assistance with mobility, communication or personal care. To apply, you need to get in contact with yor nearest Children’s and Youth Services Office. You can find their website with details of local offices on the following link:
Autism Intervention Program (Provincial)
Ontario’s Autism Intervention Program is for any residents of the province who have an autistic child, regardless of income. To be eligible, you need to obtain a referral from your doctor or psychologist confirming the diagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder.
The program is intensive, but offers excellent support and preparation for the family. The main features of the program are as follows:
- Applied Behavioral Analysis. This aims to remove the barriers that keep an autistic child from relating properly to the world around him.
- A structured approach to altering established behavioral patterns and establishing new, positive ones.
- An individually tailored personal step by step plan for the child to achieve carefully set goals.
- Practical help for the child to become gradually more independent.
You can choose one of two options within this program:
- Direct Service. This means that your child and you will work with the most appropriate one of the nine service providers in the province.
- Direct Funding. If you choose this option, you will choose your own service provider and have the funding made available directly to you to cover the costs.
Children’s Rehabilitation Services (Provincial)
The Children’s Rehabilitation Services Program is set up to help chidren with disabilities: Communicative, developmental, physical or intellectual to rehabilitate into society and make the most of their potential. The programs take place within one of Ontario’s 20 specialist treatment centres. Therapies are tailored to your child’s needs, but include services such as physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. Different centres offer additional therapies according to local need. Your doctor or caseworker can refer your child, but it is also possible for a parental referral to be accepted.
To qualify for this program, your child needs to be:
- Under 19, and a resident of Ontario.
- Have established special needs. Conditions that will qualify include: Cerebral Palsy, brain injury, learning or developmental disorders, Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Spina Bifida, or other chronic medical conditions.
To make your application for inclusion in the program, contact your local centre:
Or, to get full information about the program click this link:
Developmental Disabilities Program (Provincial)
Ontario’s Developmental Disabilities Program is for all children who have, or are assessed as being at risk of developing a developmental disability. It is not dependent on income or family circumstances.
The program covers respite care, either at your home or elsewhere, support for the child to integrate into the community and residential services when required. The programs include Behavioral Management Education for children whose problems lead to behavioral difficulties, and early intervention for children under five who are tthought to be at risk of developing such disabilities.
Your local office of the Ontario Ministry of Children’s Services will guide you through the application process.
Cleft Lip and Palate/Craniofacial Dental Program (Provincial)
The government site is currently experiencing difficulties, but good information is available on the above link. The govt. site is linked below:
If it remains unavailable, please ask for assistance at your local Ministry of Health and Long Term Care:
or, in French:
The program is available to children who live in Ontario and require treatments for cleft lip and palate or other craniofacial anomalies. The treatments may include dental surgery and special care and speech therapy. As long as the treatment is approved before you make the application, and is not covered by your private dental insurance, the program is available to all children with these needs. Treatments covered include:
- Dental orthopaedic treatment
- Orthodontic treatment
- Restorative dentistry
- Dental prosthetics
- Dental implants and oral sugery that is not covered by OHIP.
Note though that only one course of treatment is offered by this scheme. You cannot recieve further funding for long term after care.
To qualify, you need an OHIP registration, and your child must have an appropriate condition. It is important to register before your child’s 18th birthday if you want to be included in this program.
To apply, ask your doctor or dentist to refer your child, or contact the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care as above. You will then be referred for a screening and assessment of your child’s needs.
Ontario Blindness and Low Vision Early Intervention Program (Provincial)
This program offers services for children in the province who are born blind or with severe visual impairment. There are a range of family centered services aimed at helping the child and the family to cope and for the child to realize his or her best potential. It works like this:
Graduate qualified social workers who have a specialism in visual problems will work with your child from birth up to Grade 1. They will work to help the child learn and implement compensation strategies and develop full use of the other senses to aid independence so that once they go to school they are ready to cope and enjoy an accessible education. Strategies and areas covered are :
- Orientation and mobility (intentional movement)
- Motor skills development
- Daily living skills (dressing, toileting, eating and washing)
- Conceptual development
- Communication development
- Maximizing residual vision, if any
- Development of the other senses to compensate for lack of vision
The team who work with the child will also undertake to ensure that the staff who will deal with him outside the home in child care or pre school groups are able to understand fully your child’s individual needs and how to work to his best advantage.
To apply, you should contact the Children’s and Youth Services for Ontario.
Special Services at Home (Provincial)
The Special Services at Home program delivers help for the funding of special needs services at home or in centres, but only if the child is not already receiving support from an exisiting residential program for this.
The services provided can cover areas such as:
- Education: teaching new skills to develop the child’s abilities
- Developing autonomy: helping the child to cope with his daily personal care and daily life
- Respite care for the child’s family. Having a disabled child can be exhausting, and respite care for the family is essential.
The level of funding supplied is assesssed according to individual needs and circumstances. All children whose special needs are too expensive for the family budget are eligible for this program. More information is available from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, linked here:
which is also where you need to send your application form. To download the form, click here:
Child Care Bursary Plan (Provincial)
Once again, the link is experiencing problems (hopefully temporary, so do try it) at the momment, but the information can usually be accessed on :
However, this link is also useful:
The Ontario Child Care Bursary Plan is a program that will help mothers who are in education themselves, and who have three or more children who need child care while they study. It comes in the form of a bursary rather than a loan, so has the advantage of not having to be repaid.
To qualify, your children must be under 11. However, if they are older and suffer from a disability or have special needs requiring child care you can also apply. Your study course must exceed 12 weeks but not exceed 52 weeks. The amount of the bursary will be tailored to your length of study. It will also depend on your family circumstances, taking into account things like the number of children you have, whether you are married or single, and can pay from 35$ to 58$ depending on the number of children you have.
To qualify, you need to have obtained your funding though OSAP for full time students, to be enrolled in a program approved by the Ontario sector of he Canada/Ontario Student Loan, and have your child care facility an approved one. You can’t get funding through this program for child care by a friend or relative.
To apply, you should download the forms for the CCB and the Child Care Bursary receipt. You ask your child care provider to complete the receipt part.Then take your forms and other documentation to the financial office of you educational provider.
Family Mediation Services (Provincial)
The program comes through the Ministry of the Attorney General and offers family mediation services to help resolve family or divorce and separation issues without recourse to the courts. You can attend any of the 17 family courts in the province.
You can receive mediation help with issues such as custody and access, property and assets splits and child support. If you become unhappy with the process at any point you are free to leave. It works best if yo are able to maintain a civil relationship with yor ex, and isn’t suitable if he has been violent and you are afraid of him. If there are issues like this, keep your lawyer and proceed as advised. Anyone in need of the service is able to partake. To apply, all you need to do is to contact the Family Court that is dealing with your case.
Healthy Babies and Healthy Children Program (Provincial)
This is a free, voluntary program for all moms who are pregnant or have children under six years of age. It’s aimed at giving a great start in life to all little ones, from brth to six. On offer are health screenings for early detection of potential problems, referrals to community programs and appropriate services, advice and support for parents, and a general information bank to aid with things like breastfeeding, child nutrition, healthy eating during pregnancy, parenting and literacy. You can apply via your midwife if you are pregnant or have just given birth, or you can ask at your nearest Ontario Early Years Centre as below:
Infant Hearing Program (Provincial)
Because undiagnosed hearing problems can cause problems later in,life, the Ontario Infant Hearing Program aims to identify and treat such problems early in a child’s life. The service tests all newborn babies in hospitals, and can also be requested if you have had a home birth. Should the tests show that there is a hearing impairment, services are available for treatment and advice.
Integrated Services for Northern Children
If you live in a rural or remote part of northern Ontario, this program gives your children access to a range of services in the fields of health, mental health and education. Children under the age of 18 qualify, and the services on offer include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychology, psychiatry,and case management. Also, educational assessment programs and remedial learning strategies are available for 18 to 21 year olds. All programs are designed to be culturally sensitive, and take into account the child’s ethnicity, religion and language. Your child will be eligible for this help if you live in the following areas…or further north:
- Manitoulin, Muskoka, Nipissing or Parry Sound.
Ask at your child’s school for a referral, use the link above or contact your case worker to apply.
Ontario Mental Health Services
This one, provided by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services Mental Health Division is for all under 18s in the province who are having mental health problems. These problems include emotional difficulties, social problems, behavioral problems or psychiatric disorders. All programs are family based and try to work with the family both in the home and in the wider community. The services can be accessed in various settings, such as in youth offender’s institutes (even secure facilities), children’s mental health treatment centres, out patient mental health clinics and in the home.
They provide counselling or even rapid intervention in emergencies. There are two dedicated youth mental health centres that are run by the program.
To apply for this help, just contact your local branch of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
Ontario Child Care Support for Working Families
This one is a tax free program for working families in Ontario. However, if you receive OCB your benefits will be reduced. Also, the program is meant to assist single parents, rather than two parent families who are no longer eligible for its help. It may be phased out in 2013, once the OCB payments increase.
So, are you eligible? You are if your child was born after 2009, you live in Ontario, receive CCTB, you have child care expenses and a qualifying income, and you do not already have a full child care subsidy fom elsewhere.
You must have filed your tax return before you can apply, and the application must be renewed every year.
Ontario Child Benefit
It doesn’t matter if you are currently in work or not for this benefit…it is available to any low income families in Ontario. It is added automtically to your CCTB, if you qualify, is paid every month, and is tax free. The actual amount that you will receive varies according to your income and situation, but you can get an idea by using this online calculator:
The criteria for eligibility are as follows:
You must be a citizen of Ontario, have a child under 18 years of age, have filed your tax returns and have registered yor child for CCTB. Also, your income must fall within the prescribed limits.
Do not apply for this…it will be awarded automatically if you are eligible and have fulfilled the criteria above.
Well, if you have worked your way through all of the above possibilities, the chances are good that you will have found just what you need! There is so much available to residents of Ontario. Make the most of the assistance that is there for you, and life is bound to get better.