(Archive copy for historical purposes only)

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Emergency Situations

NOTE : This section covers two types of emergency assistance, i.e., (1) "interim" assistance granted to a family or an individual while their application for ongoing assistance is being processed (investigation period), and (2) assistance granted on a single-issue basis where an individual or family urgently requires financial aid for one or more basic assistance components to prevent hardship.


Emergency assistance is that assistance granted when there is no eligibility in accordance with the Regulations at the date of application.  It is granted only with the approval of the District Manager.    Policy 119.05

Emergency shelter may be provided in extreme circumstances; for example, temporary board and lodging may be granted to a burnt out or evicted family which does not have sufficient financial resources to meet its immediate needs while seeking alternative housing.  Emergency shelter does not include construction or reconstruction of a house.    Policy 116.02

Payment of arrears in light and power bills may be considered as emergency assistance; such assistance is recoverable at the rate of 5% of monthly requirements.    Policy 119.01

New and reopened cases may be assisted for a 30-day period without a home visit by the social worker; however, a home visit must be made before subsequent assistance can be provided.    Policy 123.05

Prince Edward Island

"Emergency assistance" means assistance paid under the Act for one month or less.  An allowance for emergency assistance includes provisions only for food, rent, fuel, drugs and utilities, but a lesser amount than that prescribed in the regula­tions may be paid where such lesser amount will suffice to meet the emergency situation; allowances for items of special need may also be provided in emergency situations.    Regulation 1(d), 15(3)

When because of special conditions, an applicant requires assistance before a complete inquiry can be made into his circumstances, assistance may be paid for a period of not more than one month, and after one month such payments shall be made only if the applicant satisfies the financial requirements for eligibility.    Regulation 7(15)

Nova Scotia - Provincial

Where an applicant under the Family Benefits Act is in receipt of Municipal Assistance, no retroactive FBA payments may be paid.  In all other cases, benefits may be granted retroactively for up to two months.    Policy 110.2

Persons requiring single-issue grants of emergency assistance must apply to the municipality where they reside.    Editorial Comment

Nova Scotia - Municipal

Where it appears to a municipal Social Services officer in Halifax that a grant of municipal social assistance is urgently needed, the officer may grant the assistance required and carry out a home visit to investigate the circumstances of the case as soon as possible following the granting of assistance.

In Halifax, any financial assistance granted on an emergency basis to an individual or client already in receipt of municipal social assistance should ordinarily be recovered from the client's future regular assistance.    Policy 1.6.1

New Brunswick

Interim assistance may be granted for up to 2 weeks when eligibility cannot be determined immediately and when the need is obviously urgent.    Regulation 9(2)

Emergency assistance is available to provide for items of basic need, housing, household equipment and supplies, and arrears on property taxes.    Regulation 17(3,4)

"Emergency" means any sudden, unexpected and unforeseen occurrence, situation or set of circumstances which would result in severe hardship unless immediate action is taken in the form of assistance for repair, replacement or rental.


The Minister may grant benefits to an independent adult or to a family not eligible for benefits under a program or who or which, although eligible, would not be entitled to such benefits, if he is of the opinion that, without the benefits, the adult or the members of such family would be in a situation that could endanger his or their health or safety or lead to complete destitution.    Act 25

Ontario - Provincial

Persons requiring emergency assistance must apply for municipal (GWA) assistance.

Ontario - Municipal

Where an applicant requires any assistance because of an emergency, the assistance may be paid even though application procedures (as outlined under the Act and Regulations) have not been complied with.  However, contributions by the Province of Ontario shall be made for such assistance for a period of not more than one-half of a month and thereafter only upon compliance with the application procedures as outlined in the Act.    Regulation 9(11); Policy 0406-04

Manitoba - Provincial

Social Allowances are normally granted from the date on which the application was signed by the applicant.  In the case of General Assistance applicants (see section 5.1), short-term assistance may be granted to persons in need residing in unorganized territories on an emergency basis in special circumstances (i.e., assistance pending receipt of first pay cheque, transportation to employment, replacement of household furnishings lost in fire, etc.).    Policy D4-11-02, CO-11-03

In such cases, only those items as are necessary to meet the emergency need shall be granted; all assets or income immediately available or convertible, except for family allowances, shall be deemed to be a financial resource.    Policy D4-11-02,03

Manitoba - Municipal

Emergency assistance may be granted by municipalities to persons in short-term need for up to two weeks where circumstances do not allow for the normal application process.  The application process must take place after that time for assistance to continue.   Regulation 3 (4,5)


If eligibility cannot be determined immediately, or if the recipient is awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the unit appeal committee or to the Social Services Appeal Board and, in both cases, the need is urgent, a grant of minimal assistance may be made to meet the need until eligibility is determined or the appeal is completed; minimal assistance covers food, shelter, heating fuel and utilities.  Items of special need which are urgently required may also be granted.    Regulation 14(2); Policy 7-1-1

- see also section 7.8


Workers may consider granting one-time issue benefits for applicants in the following circumstances:

- applicants with ongoing sufficient income,

- applicants awaiting sufficient income,

- stranded Albertans, and

- deceased indigent Albertans.

Standard asset exemptions (see section 4.1) are allowed at the discretion of the intake worker; an exemption may be refused where the worker feels that the person has not exhausted all financial resources, e.g., second mortgage on client's home, personal property as collateral on a loan, accessibility of assets via credit, debit or bank card.  Eligible applicants may receive one-time benefits limited to the following:

- Standard allowance (see section 5.2.9) up to actual cost,

- Non-Emergency Travel (see section 5.3.9"k") for transportation, food and accommodation,

- Emergency Allowance (see section 5.3.9"n") for food, accommodation, replacement clothes, child care and transportation, and

- Emergency medical needs (ambulance, medical/surgical supplies, optical and dental services). Policy 02-03-11

In emergency situations (i.e., client needs immediate assistance, computerized payroll system is down), a manual cheque may be issued by the district office (see also section 7.6).   Policy 05-05-02

- See also "Emergency Allowance"  (Section 5.3.9)

British Columbia

The Director, in his discretion, may authorize the payment of benefits for the month in which an application is made to a person who has assets, income, or anticipated income in excess of that permitted under the regulations, provided undue hardship will occur if such benefits are not provided.  Such assistance may be recoverable from the recipient.    Regulation 4(1)

- see "Hardship Assistance" (section 5.2.10, note "l")

Where an individual who is eligible for income assistance for basic needs is unable to obtain an item of special need due to lack of money or assets or inability to obtain credit, supplementary assistance for the month during which a request was made may be granted in addition to those amounts allowed by regulation, provided that failure to obtain the item will result in imminent danger to the person's physical health or apprehension of a child under the Family and Child Service Act.    Regulation 4(3)

Assistance granted under Regulation 4(3) is called a "crisis grant".  Such assistance is available on a one-time request basis only and is not intended to be ongoing.  Crisis grants are not recoverable, and each district office is allocated a specific crisis grant budget.    Policy 3.28.8


When the Director is satisfied that emergency or a condition of extreme hardship exists, he may authorize the provision of assistance before the application for assistance has been duly processed.    Regulation 6(2)

Where, in the opinion of the Director, a person is in urgent but temporary need and he is satisfied that such person will, within a short time, acquire resources greater than necessary for his maintenance and livelihood, the Director may enter into an arrangement with that person for the repayment of any money advanced for assistance and may take any security necessary to effect such repayment.  Short-term, emergency and interim assistance may be granted according to actual need for a period not exceeding 3 months.    Regulation 27, 17

Northwest Territories

If eligibility of an applicant for assistance cannot be determined immediately, for reasons beyond the control of the applicant or the office, and the need is apparently urgent, a grant of minimal assistance may be made to meet the need until the eligibility of the applicant can be determined.    Regulation 11(2)

Assistance may be provided to meet an unexpected or special situation in the case of a recipient who, for reasons satisfactory to the Director, is unable to sustain himself and his dependents for the period of time for which an assistance grant was intended.    Regs. Sched. "C" No. 18

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