Financial Literacy

ON - Accessing and Optimizing Pensions and Public Benefits

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Ontario edition


Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

The Canada Pension Plan is an earnings related social insurance program run by the federal government. Adults, 18 and over and legally employed, pay into the CPP, and receive the benefits later in life.

Information for Custodial Grandparents  Who May Wish to Apply for Government  Benefits and Subsidies
Ontario Edition

“My sister raised her granddaughter without a bit of help from  anybody, you know? Because she didn’t know.”

When grandparents take custody of their grandchildren, they may not  know about the different kinds of assistance available to them. This  pamphlet can help you learn about the kinds of financial assistance you  might qualify for as a grandparent raising your grandchild(ren).

Many individuals who have taken custody of their grandchildren do so  out of urgent or unforeseen situations, such as the death or sudden  illness of the grandchild’s parent, or other emergency.

In addition to the challenges you may experience in unexpectedly raising  your grandchild, you may find that your financial needs have increased  as a result of having caregiving responsibilities and/or custody of your  grandchild.

Often, custodial grandparents encounter financial difficulties when  caring for their grandchildren. Some grandparents have retired, are  unemployed, or unable to work outside the home due to the demands of  taking care of their grandchildren. You may not be able to work because  of your own health conditions or disability.

Many people need financial help to ensure the health and well-being  of their families. This pamphlet can help you understand what financial  resources exist to assist you as you raise your grandchildren. It can help  you understand how to apply for these resources and who to contact for  further information.

In Ontario, you can apply for several kinds of financial assistance. Your income and the circumstances you are experiencing may determine what kind of assistance you are eligible for. Do not hesitate to ask. These programs exist to help you raise your grandchild.

Ontario Works

If you are unemployed and ineligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits, and you need immediate financial assistance, you may qualify for income assistance through Ontario Works.

Eligibility requires that  you be willing to take part in activities that may help you find work. You  may also be eligible to receive health benefits and assistance with costs  related to eviction, moving, and employment.

  • You must be under 65 to qualify for Ontario Works.
  • Your savings and assets may impact your eligibility for Ontario Works.

Where do I get more information?

Ontario Disability Support Program

If you have a disability, you may qualify for Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). ODSP is a program that provides financial assistance to people living with disabilities, whether you are able to work or not. (benefits vary based on income and need).

Where can I find more information?

NOTE: It can take several weeks to find out if you qualify for ODSP. If you  need immediate financial assistance, you should apply to Ontario Works  (see above).

Temporary Care Assistance

Temporary care assistance may be available if your grandchild is not your  legal dependent (for example, if you are not an adoptive parent) and the  child is not under the care of a Children’s Aid Society.

You may receive temporary care if your grandchild is expected to reside  with you temporarily, and no parent or other person who is legally  obligated to support your grandchild can provide care. You may be  eligible even if you are receiving other government benefits or assistance  for your own care.

What support might I receive?

  • You may receive modest support to help you cover costs associated  with temporarily taking in your grandchild.
  • If you qualify, you may receive support for prescription drugs, vision,  and dental care for your grandchild.
  • You may also be able to get a community start-up grant to buy beds,  dressers, etc. to help set a room for the child, or an allowance for  special dietary needs.

Where can I get more information?

Children’s Aid Societies (CAS)

If CAS is involved with your grandchild, there are two types of arrangements that may be made: Kinship Care and Kinship Service.

Kinship Care

  • lf the child is a ward of the CAS and CAS has decided it is in the child’s  best interest to live with you, you may be eligible for monthly foster  payments. This is called kinship care.
  • To qualify for kinship foster care payments, you must meet the same  standards as other foster care homes. This is a time-consuming  process. You will be asked to do training, get medicals and references,  and have your home inspected.
  • All legal decisions about the child will be made by the CAS. You will have  to follow their rules and work cooperatively with them.

Kinship Service

If the child is not a ward of the CAS but there is an open CAS file, you  may still be able to receive occasional help.

For example, CAS may help buy extras such as a crib or car seat.

  • Funding is decided case by case. The kinship support worker will ask  for receipts.
  • To find out whether you can get funding, talk to your local CAS kinship  support worker.

For more information:

Income Tax Benefits and Deductions

Canada Child Tax Benefit

You may receive this benefit if you are the primary caregiver of a child  under the age of 18 and meet certain income guidelines.

  • Even if you are providing temporary care, you may still be eligible.
  • You can apply for the Canada Child Tax Benefit as soon as your  grandchild starts living with you.
  • You may not be eligible if you are receiving money from another  government agency, such as Children’s Aid Society.

How do I apply for the Canada Child Tax Benefit?

Ontario Child Benefit

You do not need to apply for the Ontario Child Benefit. You are eligible  if you have registered your grandchild for the Canada Child Tax Benefit,  and have filed your income tax return for the previous year.

Am I eligible?

To determine your eligibility, use the Internet at:

Revenue Canada

You may be able to claim your grandchild for various deductions  and tax credits.

  • You should be receiving the monthly Universal Child Care Benefit.
  • A child may also qualify as a deductible dependent or as an equivalent  to spouse.
  • Some of the childcare costs are deductible if you are working.
  • Depending on your income, you may be able to get the Canada Child Tax  Benefit, the National Child Benefit Supplement, and the GST tax credit.
  • Depending on your circumstances, you may also be able to use the  Caregiver Tax Credit, Child Disability Tax Benefit, Medical Expenses Tax  Credit, and Adoption Tax Credit.

Accessing Government Benefits and Subsidies

  • If your grandchildren are older, tuition and education costs may be  allowed as deductions.
  • If your grandchildren are part of a sports team or other fitness related activity, or participate in an arts activity, you can claim related  expenses on your federal taxes.
  • If you are a recipient of Old Age Security {OAS) and have a low income,  you may be eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement {GIS). You  can apply in writing through Service Canada.
  • If your spouse receives OAS and the GIS and you have a low income,  you may be eligible for the Allowance Program, if you are over 60. You  should apply for the Allowance Program between 6 to 11 months after  your 60th birthday. You can apply in writing through Service Canada.
  • You can apply for many of the credits and benefits by filling out a form  at Service Canada.
  • If you are only finding out about these tax credits now, you can still  claim past expenses from up to 10 years ago! Tore-file your income tax  returns for previous years, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website  (below) and download the T1Adjustment Request form.

For more information:

Ontario Income Tax

  • If your grandchildren participate in a recreational activity (e.g. sports team, dance classes, art classes, theatre camp), you can claim expenses related to these activities on your provincial taxes.
  • If you are low income and receive the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), you may also be eligible for Ontario’s Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS).

For more information:

Canadian Pension Plan (CPP)

If you are raising the child of a parent who has died or is disabled you may be able to get CPP Survivor Benefits or CPP Disability Benefits.

For more information:

Employment Insurance (EI)

If you are working, you may be able to get benefits to take a parental leave of up to 35 weeks.

For more information:

Ontario Child Care Supplement for Working Families

You may be eligible for the Ontario Child Care Supplement (OCCS) for Working Families if your grandchild is under seven years of age, you do not receive subsidized day care for this grandchild, and if you meet specific income qualifications.

For more information:

Child Care Subsidies

You may be eligible for an Ontario Child Care Subsidy. Child Care  Subsidies are jointly funded by the Ontario government, municipal  governments, and First Nations communities. You may be eligible if the  child is under age 12 (or under 18 if the child has “special needs”) and  is enrolled in a full-time child care program, a recreation program, or a  before- and after-school program at a school with full-day kindergarten.  The amount you may be eligible to receive depends on your family’s net  income as reported on your income tax.

You do not need to be employed to be eligible for a Child Care Subsidy.  You may still qualify if you are not employed but you or the child (or  both) have documented “special needs” that can be confirmed by a  professional such as a doctor or social worker

For more information:

Healthy Smiles Ontario

If your grandchild is age 17 and under, you have a low income, and you do not have access to dental benefits through any other government assistance program (such as Ontario Works), then your grandchild may be eligible to receive free regular dental care.

For more information:

Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities

If your grandchild has a severe disability, you may be eligible for financial assistance through Ontario’s Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Your eligibility will depend on your family income.

For more information:

Special Services at Home

If your grandchild has a developmental or physical disability, you may  be eligible for financial assistance to help pay for specialized services in  or outside the home. Children must be living at home and not receiving  help from a residential program. Funding can be used for such things as  services to help your grandchild learn or develop skills and abilities, or  to hire someone to come in and give you a “break” from the day-to-day  care of your grandchild.

For more information:

Assistive Devices Program

If your grandchild requires the use of any of the following, you are  eligible for financial assistance under the Assistive Devices Program  through the Ontario Government’s Assistive Devices Program.

  • This service helps you find programs that provide equipment  and assistive devices or other personal supports for people with  disabilities in Ontario.
  • A variety of assistive devices (wheel chairs, communication devices,  hearing devices, visual devices) and supplies (ostomy supplies,  diabetic supplies, enteral feeding supplies) may be available to you.
  • You are eligible for these benefits no matter your income.

For more information:

Easter Seals

If your grandchild has a physical disability, you may be eligible to receive  financial assistance from Easter Seals.

  • Easter Seals covers a variety of equipment (mobility devices and  assistive equipment) needs, for a variety of disabilities.
  • Easter Seals also offers social and entertainment supports, including  camp, and a travel card.

For more information:

You should not rely on this pocket tool for financial or legal advice. It provides general information only. NICE is not responsible for any use of the information other than for general educational/informational purposes and no claim can be made against NICE or any of its personnel for any such use.
National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE)
246 Bloor Street West, Room 234
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V4, Canada