Other Government Benefits and Programs

You may be eligible for Tax Credits, Benefits and Incentives (see below for some examples), including the Disability Tax Credit and Registered Disability Savings Plans (see below).  If you have children, you and/or your children may be eligible for Child Benefits (see below).

There may be other benefits available to you.  Please see our:

Tax Credits, Benefits and Incentives

There are many tax credits, benefits and incentives available from the Canadian and Ontario governments for you and your children.  Some of these benefits are explained below. If you have questions or concerns about these credits, benefits and incentives, you should get legal advice (see Getting legal help below).

The Government of Ontario website has information about tax credits, benefits and incentives: www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/credit/.

The Canada Benefits Government of Canada website has information about tax credits and benefits: www.canadabenefits.gc.ca.

Disability Tax Credit

The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) or Disability Amount is a non-refundable income tax credit for people who meet the definition of disability under Canada’s income tax laws (including children and seniors). You have to apply for the DTC.

The DTC may help you to reduce the amount of income tax that you have to pay. You or your dependants may be eligible for the DTC. You may be able to claim your dependant’s DTC to reduce your own income tax. A dependant for the DTC can be your spouse or common-law partner, your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s parent, grand-parent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew.

If you are found eligible for the DTC retroactively, you can apply to have your income tax returns for past years reassessed for up to 10 years.  For example, if you are found eligible for the DTC as of 2008, you can apply to have your income tax returns from 2008 onward reassessed.  If you had income that was taxed, you could receive a tax refund. If you are eligible for the DTC, you may also be eligible for the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

It is very important that your healthcare provider completes your DTC application carefully.  The DTC rules can be complicated, so you should get advice from an income tax expert. AIDS service organizations (ASOs) and community agencies often have free income tax clinics (please see our HIV Info page for more information about community organizations and ASOs).

Children who are eligible for the DTC may also be eligible for the DTC Supplemental Amount, the Child Disability Benefit (CDB) and the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).  Please scroll down for CDB and RDSP information.

You can get more information about tax deductions for people with disabilities, including the Disability Tax Credit/Disability Amount, from the Canada Revenue Agency at toll-free telephone 1-800-959-8281, TTY toll-free 1-800-665-0354, www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/sgmnts/dsblts/menu-eng.html.

DTC Supplemental Amount

The DTC Supplemental Amount is for a child who is eligible for the DTC and under 18 years of age at the end of the tax year. The DTC supplemental amount is set every year and was $4,667 for 2016.

Child Disability Benefit (CDB)

If your child is eligible for the DTC, you may also receive a Child Disability Benefit (CDB). The CDB amount depends on family net income. The CDB is up to $227.50* per month and is paid as part of the Canada Child Benefit (*for July 2017 through June 2018).

Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs)

Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs) were introduced by the Government of Canada in 2008.  RDSPs are long-term savings plans for people with disabilities in Canada, including children.

The RDSP “beneficiary” is the person with the disability who will benefit from the RDSP.  To be the “beneficiary” of an RDSP, you must:

  • be under 60 years of age at the end of the calendar year that you open your RDSP
  • be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC)
  • have a valid Social Insurance Number, and
  • live in Canada.

The DTC or Disability Amount is an income tax credit for people who meet the definition of disability under Canada’s income tax laws.  You must apply for the DTC and be found eligible for the DTC to be eligible to have an RDSP (please see Disability Tax Credit above).

The RDSP “plan holder” is the person who sets up and manages the RDSP.  The plan holder may be the beneficiary or may be another person, for example the parent of the beneficiary.

Anyone can make contributions to your RDSP with the written permission of your RDSP plan holder.  The lifetime maximum for contributions to your RDSP is $200,000.00.  RDSP contributions are not tax deductible.

RDSPs do not affect your eligibility for government benefits including:

  • Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW),
  • Ontario Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) housing assistance, and
  • Government of Canada benefits, including Child Benefits.

But, you have a legal obligation to inform ODSP/OW and your RGI housing provider if you or anyone in your benefit unit starts an RDSP or has an RDSP

The Government of Canada can provide bonds and grants to RDSP beneficiaries who are under 50 years of age (up to the calendar year that you turn 49 years of age).  It may be possible to “carry forward” to “catch up” on RDSP bonds, grants and contributions for past years, but you must apply before the end of the calendar year in which you turn 49 years of age.  It is a good idea to get financial planning advice.

The Government of Canada RDSP “bond” is a government payment of up to $1,000.00 per year from the government for RDSP beneficiaries who are under 50 years of age and who have a modest family income.  You do not have to make any contributions to your RDSP to be eligible for the RDSP bond. The amount of the bond depends on your family income.  The lifetime maximum that you can receive in government RDSP bonds is $20,000.00. You can only receive the RDSP bond up until the end of the calendar year that you turn 49 years of age.

The Government of Canada RDSP “grant” is a government payment that matches your annual contributions to your RDSP at $3.00, $2.00 or $1.00 for each $1.00 of contributions.  You can only receive the RDSP grant up until the end of calendar year that you turn 49 years of age. The amount of the matching grant depends on your family income. There is no maximum family income limit.  The grant is up to $3,500.00 per year, with a lifetime maximum of $70,000.00.

If your RDSP includes government grants and bonds received in the last 10 years, all of the money must remain in your RDSP for at least 10 years after the most recent bond/grant benefit payment.  If you take money out before the 10 years have passed, some or all of the bong/grant money received in the last 10 years will be repaid to the government.  There is an exception to the 10 year bond/grant repayment rule if a medical doctor certifies that you have a shortened life expectancy (five years or less).  There may be rules and limits on the amount of money that you can take out of your RDSP and when you can take money out.  The rules about taking money out of an RDSP are very complicated.

RDSPs are partly “tax-deferred” savings plans. You only have to pay tax when you take money out of your RDSP and you only pay tax on any government bonds/grants and any interest/income earned by your RDSP.  The tax will be at your tax rate for the year that you take the money out.  The money that you contribute to your RDSP is not taxed when you take money out because it would have already been taxed before you contributed the money to your RDSP.

Many financial institutions, like banks and credit unions, offer RDSPs.  You choose the financial institution for your RDSP.  It is important to be careful in choosing.  Some financial institutions may charge fees.  Also, there are different types of RDSP options and investments.  Some financial institutions may limit the types of payments from an RDSP.

The rules about RDSPs are complicated, so it is a good idea to get legal and financial planning advice.  If you are living with HIV in Ontario, please Contact Us for legal advice, or you can contact your local community legal clinic: www.legalaid.on.ca/clinics.

Here is a link to Government of Canada RDSP information: www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/disability/savings/index.shtml.

PLAN Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network is a non-profit organization.  The PLAN RDSP website includes a lot of information including a Step by Step RDSP Guide, tutorial, and calculator: www.rdsp.com.

Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs)

If you or your spouse/partner work and have employment income, you can save money in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). RRSP contributions can be used to reduce your income tax. Any income you earn in the RRSP is usually exempt from income tax until you cash, make withdrawals, or receive payments from your RRSP. The amount you can contribute to an RRSP each year depends on the amount of your employment income. You may have “contribution room” in your RRSP if you have not made the maximum contributions.

RRSPs are considered assets for Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) benefits, so RRSPs may affect your ODSP and OW benefits.  You must tell ODSP/OW if you or anyone in your benefit unit starts or has any RRSPs. For more information about RRSPs and ODSP/OW, please Contact Us for legal advice if you are living with HIV, or you can contact your local community legal clinic: www.legalaid.on.ca/clinics.

Here is a link to Government of Canada information about RRSPs: www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/rrsp-reer/rrsps-eng.html.

Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs)

You can start saving for your children’s post-secondary education by starting a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Even if you contribute a small amount of money each month, it can add up to a lot for your child’s education. Your child’s RESP may also be eligible for contributions from the Government of Canada (see below).

You will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) for you and for your child if you want to open an RESP. You will also need to choose an RESP provider. It is important to be very careful when you choose the type of RESP and the RESP provider. Some providers charge fees. Also, there are a lot of rules about RESPs and you do not want to lose money you invest.

The government of Canada may contribute to your child’s RESP through the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and there is an additional CESG for lower income households.  If you are lower income, the government of Canada may contribute to your child’s RESP even if you do not put any money in the RESP yourself.

An RESP will not affect your Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) benefits, but you must tell ODSP/OW if you or your child start or have an RESP.

Here is a link to RESP information on the government of Canada website: www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/student-financial-aid/education-savings.html.

Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs)

Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) are registered savings accounts that let you earn tax-free investment income. Canadian residents age 18 or older can contribute up to the annual amount each year. If you have not made the maximum contributions, you may have contribution room and be able to contribute more than the annual amount. Money you put into a TFSA is not tax deductible (like RRSPs) but investment income and withdrawals from TFSAs are tax-free. TFSAs are considered assets and will affect your Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works (OW) benefits. You must tell ODSP/OW if you or anyone in your benefit unit starts or has a TFSA.

Here is a link to information about Tax Free Savings Accounts from the Government of Canada: www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/tax-free-savings-account.html.

Getting legal help

The law is complicated, so you should get legal advice about your situation. If you are living with HIV in Ontario, please Contact Us for free legal advice, or you can contact your local community legal clinic: www.legalaid.on.ca/clinics/.

Child Benefits

There are several child benefits available from the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.  Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) are explained above.

Government benefits for children are usually paid to the child’s primary caregiver or custodial parent. Some child benefits may be shared if there is more than one primary caregiver.

If there is a change in primary caregiver or custodial parent, the new caregiver will need to apply to receive the child benefits. The new caregiver will have to show some proof of the change, such as an agreement, a custody order or a will, and, will need to contact the child benefit provider(s), for example the Canada Child Benefit program, the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities, etc. (see below for more information and contact information).

If you have questions or concerns about child benefits, you should get legal advice {see Getting Legal Help below).

Canada Child Benefit

In late July 2016, the government of Canada started paying the new Canada Child Benefit (CCB) to families with children:  www.esdc.gc.ca/en/canada_child_benefit.page

The CCB replaces the Canada Child Tax Benefit, the National Child Benefit Supplement and the Universal Child Care Benefit.  Low- and middle-income families will see an increase in their monthly benefits compared to the old child benefit system.

The CCB does not affect the Canada Child Disability Benefit.

In June 2016, the Ontario government confirmed that the CCB will not be clawed back from Ontario’s social assistance benefits:  Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).  So families on social assistance in Ontario will receive the full amount of the increased payments. In addition, the CCB will not affect eligibility for social assistance, child care subsidies, children’s dental benefits, or housing supports in Ontario.

Ontario Child Benefit

The Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) is a government of Ontario benefit for low and moderate income families with children.  You do not need to apply for the OCB.  Eligibility for the OCB is assessed as part of the Canada Child Benefit process.  OCB is included with the Canada Child Benefit.  Here is a link to information on the Ontario government website:  www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/financialhelp/ocb/index.aspx.

Child Disability Benefit

The Child Disability Benefit (CDB) is a government of Canada benefit for children with disabilities.  You can find more information on the government of Canada website: www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/dsblty-eng.html.

Dental Care for Children

The Healthy Smiles Ontario is an Ontario government dental program for children: www.ontario.ca/page/get-dental-care.

Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities

The Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD) program is provided by the Ontario government to help with extra costs, including prescription medications, respite care, etc. You must apply to the government of Ontario to receive the ACSD for your child. You can get more information about the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities by calling Service Ontario: telephone 416-326-1234 or toll-free 1-800-267-8097, TTY 416-325-3408 or TTY toll-free 1-800-268-7095, or on the government of Ontario website: www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/specialneeds/disabilities.aspx.

Special Services at Home

The Special Services At Home (SSAH) benefit is provided by the Ontario government to help if you are caring for a child or adult with developmental disabilities. The SSAH can help you to pay for supports, respite care, etc. You must apply to receive SSAH. You can get more information about the Special Services At Home by calling Service Ontario: telephone 416-326-1234 or toll-free 1-800-267-8097, TTY 416-325-3408 or TTY toll-free 1-800-268-7095, or on the Ontario government website: www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/specialneeds/specialservices.aspx.

Ontario Works Temporary Care Assistance

If someone else is caring for your children under the age of 18, that person may be eligible for Ontario Works Temporary Care Assistance benefits for your child(ren). You can get more information about Ontario Works Temporary Care Assistance by calling Service Ontario: telephone 416-326-1234 or toll-free 1-800-267-8097, TTY 416-325-3408 or TTY toll-free 1-800-268-7095, or on the Ontario government website:  www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/questions/tca.aspx.

Getting legal help

The law is complicated, so you should get legal advice about your situation. If you are living with HIV in Ontario, please Contact Us for legal advice. If you are living in Ontario, you can contact your local community legal clinic: www.legalaid.on.ca/clinics.