(Archive copy for historical purposes only)

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Types of Assistance


Social Assistance payments are approved and delivered in two ways:

a) Computer pay benefits, which are granted by the District Manager in cases of physical, mental or social disability, including single parents with dependent children and women age 50 or over.  In practice, computer pay benefits can now be issued for any client on assistance for more than one month, including employables; approximately 80% of the total social assistance caseload is on the computer pay system.

b) Manual pay benefits, which are granted by the District Office for the kinds of assistance not included in computer pay and for all kinds of assistance to persons who are employable or eligible for a supplement to income or pensions.    Policy 100.02

Social assistance consists of:

a) Basic Assistance which includes:

- Regular assistance (food, fuel, clothing and personal care, household maintenance and utilities);

- Fuel allowance (Labrador only);

- Rent or mortgage;

- Board and lodging;

b) Other Assistance which includes housekeeping services, housing, transportation, burials, special needs and additional assistance.    Policy 100.1

Prince Edward Island

Although the Welfare Assistance Act and Regulation provide for short-term and long-term assistance the province effectively ignores this distinction since April 1990.  As of that date, all client households have their entitlement calculated using the same benefit scale regardless of factors such as duration on assistance, employability and age.  The exception to this rule is single employables, whose maximum shelter allowance was decreased in the summer of 1994.

Assistance may be granted for all or any of the following:  food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies and personal requirements, items incidental to carrying on a trade or other employment, items of special need, care in a residential institution, travel and transportation, funerals and burials, health care services, social services and comforts allowances.    Act 1(a)

Nova Scotia - Provincial

Assistance may be granted under the Family Benefits Act where the cause of need has become or is likely to be of a prolonged nature.  Categories of clients who may be eligible for Family Benefits include persons over 65 who are not eligible for Old Age Security benefits, persons with a major physical or mental impairment which is likely to last for at least one year, single parents or disabled parents who have care and custody of at least one dependent child, and foster parents.    Act 3; Editorial Comment

Nova Scotia - Municipal

Municipalities provide short-term assistance to persons who can work but who are unemployed, supplementation of provincial Family Benefits and long-term benefits to persons who do not qualify for family benefits under the Family Benefits Act.    Editorial comment

New Brunswick

"Assistance" is defined as financial assistance or any service provided under the Social Welfare Act and Regulations.  Assistance is granted to meet the basic requirements of the unit head and his dependents for food, clothing, household and personal needs, fuel and utilities, shelter and routine transportation.    Regulation 2,14


With the coming into force of the Income Security Act on August 1, 1989, the government of Quebec has implemented two programs of last resort - the Financial Support Program (FSP) and the Work and Employment Incentives Program (WEIP).   A third program under the same legislation which was passed with retroactive effect to the 1988 taxation year, the Parental Wage Assistance Program, is summarized in section 6.3.

Benefit Levels and Earnings Exemptions

Two of the major objectives of the new income security policy in Quebec are the provision of incentives to work for employable clients and the adjustment of assistance levels in accordance with the needs of the clientele as well as their ability to cover the cost of some of those needs through their own efforts.

With respect to needs, the benefit structure for both programs of last resort is based on a study carried out by Statistics Canada concerning expenses actually incurred by the lowest 10% (decile) of low-income working households in Canada; it should be noted that the resulting threshold of recognized needs is broader in scope than the concept of basic or ordinary needs under the Canada Assistance Plan.  Benefit levels for unemployable clients are intended to cover the total cost of these recognized needs, while those which apply to the different categories of employable clients assume a contribution by the able-bodied client towards the cost of these needs via the earnings exemption route.  Benefit levels and corresponding levels of work income excluded appear in section 5.2.5.

Financial Support Program (FSP)

This program applies to persons who are unable to work on a long-term basis (see section 2.8); FSP benefits are higher than under the former Social Aid program to an adult who cannot cover his needs and those of his dependants, if any, by reason of severe and permanent impediments to work. FSP clients who wish to improve their situation or their chances of obtaining employment may avail themselves of employability enhancement measures under the Work and Employment Initiatives Program; in these cases, the client will receive a participation allowance and a special benefit to cover costs related to participation.

Work and Employment Incentives Program (WEIP)

This program applies to all income security clients who are unemployed employables.  A central feature of WEIP is the course of action which may be proposed to the client towards his/her entry or re-entry into the labour market (section 22 of the Act); this course of action may include temporary measures such as job support, training or community services (section 23 of the Act).  WEIP benefit levels and work income exemptions are based on the availability or unavailability of the client and his/her participation or non-participation in employability enhancement measures.  The benefit levels are designed to provide an incentive to work in that they maintain a gap between a family with one adult working at minimum wage and a similar family with an employable head or spouse which is receiving WEIP benefits.  In addition to financial assistance of last resort, WEIP offers employment assistance in the form of wage subsidies payable to employers as well as a wide range of employability enhancement measures (general and work-related counselling and training, job search and placement assistance).

Ontario - Provincial

Long-Term Assistance

The provincial Family Benefits (FBA) program provides long-term financial assistance to persons in need because of a major physical or mental impairment, blindness, advanced age (seniors not in receipt of Old Age Security benefits), or permanent unemployability, and to needy sole-support mothers or fathers.  FBA assistance may also be available to foster parents on behalf of their foster children, to parents caring for a severely handicapped child at home (see section 6.3) and to participants in vocational rehabilitation training programs.    Provincial Contact


In the case of persons who are blind, disabled (including Vocational Rehabilitation Services participants and disabled persons 65 years of age and over who are not eligible for OAS/GIS), permanently unemployable, single persons age 60 to 64 years, or recipients of GAINS-A (see Section 6.1), the Ministry does not grant allowances for ordinary needs, shelter and special needs, but rather a flat rate allowance to ensure a minimum annual income based on the family size, the ages of dependent children and the type of accommodation.  The guaranteed minimum annual income is somewhat higher than the regular annual FBA benefit level in recognition of the extra needs of these persons.  (See section 6.3)    Regulation 31

Ontario - Municipal

Short-Term Assistance

The GWA Regulations specify 4 classes of assistance:
a) General Assistance;
b) Special Assistance;
c) Supplementary Aid;
d) Work Activity Incentive Allowance.

General Assistance shall be granted by the Welfare Administrator of a municipal or regional government or approved Indian band to a household in short-term financial hardship to cover basic needs (food, clothing, household and personal needs and utilities) and shelter (including fuel) and specified items of special need.    Provincial Contact

Special Assistance, Supplementary Aid and the Work Activity Incentive Allowance are covered in section 5.3.6.

It should be noted that Special Assistance and Supplementary Aid are discretionary classes of assistance, i.e., any municipality may choose not to grant either class of assistance, or to vary the amount of coverage granted for special needs.

Foster parents caring for foster children are eligible to receive a GWA foster child allowance.


Manitoba has a two-tiered system of social assistance comprising the Provincial Social Allowances Program and the Municipal Assistance Program.  Generally, the Social Allowances Program provides long-term assistance to persons defined in the Social Allowances Act as being unemployable.  Municipalities are responsible for providing assistance to persons in short-term need who reside in or currently live within their boundaries, such as:

- unemployed employables who are in receipt of little or no unemployment insurance benefits;

- persons with short-term disabilities of 90 days or less; and

- transients.    Provincial Contact

The City of Winnipeg accounts for almost 90% of the total municipal social assistance caseload in the province.    Provincial Contract

Since April 1993, the province has regulated eligibility criteria, benefit levels and administrative rules which apply to municipal assistance under the Municipal Assistance Regulation.

General Assistance

Persons in need who reside in unorganized territories in the province (where a municipal level of government does not exist) and who are not eligible for a Social Allowance may be eligible for General Assistance under the same Act.  General Assistance may respond to short-term needs, where an applicant who is not categorically eligible for a Social Allowance may reasonably be expected to be self-sufficient within three months of the date of application, or it may respond to longer term needs.   Act 5.1; Policy D4-11-02


Assistance under the Saskatchewan Assistance Plan may be granted through the direct payment of money or provision of goods and services, purchase of services on behalf of a recipient, or the provision of assistance through any other method to cover all or any of the following items of need:

a) items of basic maintenance;

b) items of special need;

c) nomination for health care services provided by the Department of Health;

d) welfare services;

e) supplementary income tested benefits;

in the manner and amounts prescribed by the regulations and includes any other assistance authorized by the regulations.    Regulation 2(c)


Assistance is available to meet basic necessities.  These necessities include:  food, clothing, shelter, heat, light and water; such things, goods and services, as are essential to health and well-being including essential surgical, medical, optical, dental and other remedial treat­ment, care and attention; and any other needs considered to be basic, from time to time, by the Director.    Act 2(a)

Since February 1991, the same standard benefit package (excluding shelter) is payable to all regular Social Allowance client households regardless of the employability status of the head of the household or the length of time that the household has been in receipt of assistance.  (Prior to this date, an "employable" household did not qualify for household or personal allowances for the first three months on assistance.)

The standard benefit package provides assistance for food, clothing, household supplies, telephone, laundry, personal needs and (for adults only) transportation.  Shelter allowances are calculated separately and are based on actual cost up to a maximum set by family size; the maximum shelter allowance for a single employable person is less than for a single unemployable person.

British Columbia

Income assistance is defined in the Guaranteed Available Income for Need Act as follows:

a) financial assistance;

b) assistance in kind;

c) aid in money or in kind to municipalities, boards, commissions, organizations, or persons providing aid, care, or health services to indigent, sick, elderly, or infirm individuals and in reimbursing expenditures made by them;

d) money for funerals, burials, or cremation;

e) health care services;

f) generally any other form of aid that is necessary for the purpose of relieving poverty, neglect or suffering.    Act 1

The income assistance programs which are available under the Act are collectively known as Programs for Independence.  One group of Programs for Independence, called Income Assurance, is designed to assure eligible elderly and disabled citizens the lifelong financial and service assistance required to meet their basic needs.  The remaining Programs for Independence, grouped under the name Temporary Assistance, are focused on the following objectives:

- to provide the temporary benefits needed to meet basic needs while the recipient is between jobs and has exhausted all other sources of income, and

- to provide all recipients the available temporary benefits and services required both to meet their basic needs and to implement an agreed-upon plan for achieving greater independence.    Policy 1.1.1


Assistance is defined in the Regulations as assistance to or in respect of a person in need by the payment of moneys or the furnishing of goods or services, including health care services, items of basic maintenance and items of special need.  Short-term, emergency and interim assistance for a period not exceeding 3 months may be granted according to actual need.  The Director may also provide or arrange for provision of welfare services to persons in need or to persons who, in his opinion, are likely to become persons in need, unless such services are provided.    Regulation 2(b), 17, 23

Items of basic maintenance include allowances for food (including special food allowances), meals and accommodation away from home, boarding care, shelter, fuel, utilities, clothing, personal needs, care in nursing homes or special care homes, comfort allowances and supplementary payments granted on the basis of need, to recipients of Old Age Security, and other statutory allowances.    Regulation 2(j); Sched. "A"

Northwest Territories

Assistance, as defined in the Regulations, includes the payment of money or the furnishing of goods or services or both.  It is available both for items of basic maintenance and for items of special need.  Items of basic maintenance essential for an adequate standard of living include food allowances, allowances for clothing, boarding and special care, accommodation, fuel, utilities, comforts allowances, and an incidental expense for the elderly. Regulation 1; Sched."B"

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