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Immigrants, Indians, and

Non-Indians Living on Reserves


Defectors entering Canada through Gander or St. John's may apply for social assistance while their application for immigrant status is being considered.  If their application for immigrant status is accepted, they will receive federal funding for the next two years and thus be ineligible for social assistance during that period; if their immigrant status application is rejected, they will be deported at federal expense.    Policy 105(m)

Prince Edward Island

Nova Scotia - Provincial

No specific provision made.

Nova Scotia - Municipal

Municipal Assistance may be granted to immigrants and Non-Canadians except for landed immigrants, whose sponsor is responsible for their welfare.    Policy 1.3.6

Treaty Indians may be considered as any other applicant to Municipal Assistance; any assistance granted in such cases is included in a claim for reimbursement by the federal Indian Affairs Department.    Policy 1.3.7

New Brunswick

No specific provision made in the Act or Regulation.


A person who is not legally authorized to reside in Canada is not eligible for assistance under a program of last resort.    Act 7(1), 12



No assistance (FBA or GWA) shall be granted to:

a) a person against whom a deportation order has been made under the Immigration Act (Canada), unless the welfare administrator is satisfied that,

i) for reasons wholly beyond the control of the person, he or she is unable to leave the country, or

ii) he or she has made an application for permanent residence status as a refugee under the Immigration Act (Canada);

b) a person in respect of whom a departure order or exclusion order under the Immigration Act (Canada) has become effective, unless the welfare administrator is satisfied that,

i) for reasons wholly beyond the control of the person, he or she is unable to leave the country, or

ii) he or she has made an application for permanent residence status as a refugee under the Immigration Act (Canada);

c) a visitor, other than a person who has made a claim for refugee status under the Immigration Act (Canada) or who has made an application for permanent residence status under the Immigration Act (Canada); or

d) a tourist.   FBA Regulation 5(a); GWA Regulation 7(7)

A landed immigrant with five cumulative years' residence in Canada may be eligible for a Family Benefits allowance or general assistance under GWA if he meets other conditions of eligibility.  ( NOTE :  Up to one month per year vacation outside of Canada may be ignored when calculating the five cumulative year period.)  Where this residence requirement is not met and the immigrant's sponsorship agreement is terminated before the five-year period, eligibility for FBA or GWA may be established based on the applicant's circumstances and the period for which assistance is expected to be required.  Any decision concerning eligibility of a sponsored immigrant who has not resided in Canada for five cumulative years as a landed immigrant must take into account the sponsor's ability to provide for the applicant.  Changes resulting in a reduced ability to provide support in whole or in part (and indications that the situation will continue) are reasonable grounds for partial or full entitlement.  A serious personal and social breakdown in the sponsoring relationship may also provide reasonable grounds for FBA or GWA eligibility, as would the case of disability occurring shortly after the applicant's arrival in Canada.    FBA Policy 0203-07; GWA Policy 0302-07

Whether a person is a refugee or refugee claimant (visitor or out-of-status person attempting to acquire immigrant status as refugee), he or she is considered to be a resident of Ontario for FBA purposes.  Citizenship and Immigration Canada must confirm the application for landed immigrant status as refugee.  FBA is payable to eligible households pending a decision on the claim for refugee status; where the application is denied, payment of FBA benefits ceases but any assistance granted is non-recoverable.    Policy 0203-07

In the case of an applicant, recipient or beneficiary who is a sponsored dependant or a nominated relative (under the Immigration Act) residing in accommodation owned or controlled by the sponsor or nominating relative, the determination of financial resources shall include income in an amount equal to the greater of:

i) payments available to the applicant or recipient under the Immigration Act, or

ii) the amount of General Assistance (GWA) or Family Benefits otherwise calculated, less the applicable basic allowance (see section 5.2.6 "Municipal").

Where the sponsored dependant, nominated relative or beneficiary does not reside in accommodation owned or controlled by the sponsor or nominating relative, the determination of financial resources shall include income in an amount equal to the greater of:

i) payments available to the applicant or recipient under the Immigration Act, or

ii) $100 monthly.

NOTE : In each of the two situation presented above (i.e., sponsored dependant/nominated relative residing with and separate from the sponsor or relative), the amount in (ii) will be used except where the sponsor or nominating relative is able to provide an amount of financial support that is greater or less than that amount.  In addition, where the applicant or recipient can establish that there has been a breakdown in the sponsorship agreement by reason of family violence, the applicant or recipient is deemed to have zero income from this source, i.e., (i) and (ii) do not apply FBA.   Regulation 13(2) (10,10.1), 13 (17); GWA Regulation 15(2)(9,9.1), 15(14)

If the sponsor or nominating relative of an applicant or a recipient is himself or herself in receipt of GWA General Assistance or an allowance under the Family Benefits Act, or a federal Guaranteed Income Supplement or GAINS.  A (see section 6.1), the applicant or recipient is deemed to have zero income from this source, i.e., (i) and (ii) do not apply.   FBA Regulation 13(15); GWA Regulation 15(12)

In all cases of sponsored immigrants applying for general assistance under GWA, the municipality should ask Citizenship and Immigration Canada to verify the financial position of the sponsor.  The Municipal Welfare Administrator shall review the circumstances of each such case and decide whether to grant assistance, deny it, or grant a reduced rate of assistance on the basis of income available from the sponsor.    Policy 0302-07


A council of a band that is approved for the purpose of the GWA Act:

a) may, with the approval of the Minister appoint a member of the band as the welfare administrator for the band.  Both Municipal welfare administrators and Band welfare administrators are subject to the same Regulations under the Act;

b) shall provide, in accordance with the Regulations, assistance to eligible band members;

c) may provide assistance to  other persons in need, providing such persons reside on the reserve;

d) may provide supplementary aid (see section 5.3.6) to or on behalf of recipients of governmental benefits who reside on the reserve.

Manitoba - Provincial

If a non-Indian, living on an Indian reserve, applies for social allowance the application is referred to the Indian Affairs Agent in charge of the reserve or to the Band Manager. His needs are assessed and provided for in the same manner as assistance granted to Indians on the reserve.    Policy D6-21-01

In all cases of applications from immigrants, the applicant should be referred to his/her sponsor for financial assistance, where an active sponsorship exists.  Where the District Director deems that failure to provide assistance would result in hardship, social allowances may be provided to sponsored immigrants; in such cases the applicant must provide appropriate verification of the sponsor's inability or refusal to provide support. Where the sponsored immigrant's application has resulted from a breach of sponsorship under the federal Immigration Act and regulations, social allowances issued during the term of sponsorship shall be recovered from the sponsor through a court of competent jurisdiction in accordance with the Immigration Act.    Policy D6-31-01, 02

Manitoba - Municipal

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is financially responsible for landed immigrants until initial job placement.  Where assistance is required after job placement, Winnipeg will grant social assistance in accordance with normal procedure.  In addition, the city may grant limited assisted to a sponsored immigrant or a visitor to Canada in extenuating circumstances.    Winnipeg Policy Manual p. 29-30


No assistance under the Saskatchewan Assistance Plan is available to an Indian as defined in the Indian Act who is a resident on an Indian reserve, or who is living off a reserve for the purpose of:

- receiving medical treatment,

- attending an education or training program,

- receiving institutional care,

- serving a period of incarceration, or

- maintaining a residence as a condition of a court order or an early release program.   Regulation 13(2)-eff. 09-93

Non-Indians living on Indian Reserves have their maintenance needs, including

the cost of transportation to receive medical care, met by the welfare administrator on the reserve, but are not eligible for health services coverage by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.  If the welfare administrator refuses to grant financial assistance, non-Indians may apply under the Saskatchewan Assistance Plan.    Policy 2-1-6

Whenever an immigrant applies for assistance under the Saskatchewan Assistance Plan (SAP) and it is determined that he is eligible for or receiving financial assistance under Citizenship and Immigration Canada programs, then he is not eligible for SAP assistance.    Policy 2-1-7

Immigrants with children may be eligible for Family Income Plan benefits when they begin receiving the federal Child Tax Benefit.

SAP eligibility for immigrants should only be considered in the following cases:

a) upon termination of a CIC-sponsored program when the immigrant has been on the program for one year or after the person has been placed in continuing full-time employment;

b) upon termination of private sponsorship by a private citizen (5 or 10 years depending on the program);

c) where the sponsor is unwilling or unable to assist the immigrant, interim assistance may be granted (provided the applicant is otherwise eligible) until CIC has reviewed and decided on the case.    Policy 2-1-7

Foreign students on student visas are not eligible for SAP benefits.



All treaty Indians and others residing on reserves are the responsibility of the federal Indian and Northern Affairs Department.    Policy 99-05-01

All treaty Indians off reserves, who are trying to establish themselves as self-supporting and who require assistance to full-time employment, may be provided with social allowance benefits excluding medical benefits (chargeable to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada).    Provincial Contact

Treaty Indians (both on and off reserves) and persons of non-treaty status living on reserves may apply for "Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped" (see section 6.3) benefits; health care and medical benefits are the responsibility of the federal government and are not provided through AISH.    Policy AISH-2-E


Because Supports for Independence (SFI) is a program of last resort; sponsored immigrants are expected to access the resources specified in their agreements rather than the SFI program.  The sponsor's financial obligation can cover a period from one to ten years.  The sponsor of an SFI applicant must declare his/her financial circumstances and present documentation to substantiate those declarations.  The SFI applicant is not eligible for SFI and is referred back to Citizenship and Immigration Canada where the sponsor has abandoned the applicant and the sponsor's whereabouts are unknown, or (ii) the applicant has been abused by the sponsor (police report or medical report required).   Policy 02-04-05

When a sponsored immigrant applying for SFI claims his/her sponsor is unable to provide support, the Department will obtain the relevant information from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.  An intake worker will meet with the SFI applicant and the sponsor to discuss the circumstances of the case.  The sponsor's assets and income (in accordance with the Social Allowance Regulations) are considered, and budgetary requirements are established for the sponsor's household (not including the SFI applicant).  A separate needs test is done for the SFI applicant, excluding the shelter allowance (except where the applicant must live independently because of an abusive situation or abandonment by the sponsor, or where institutionalization is necessary because of a medical condition).  In both cases described in this paragraph, the person's income is totally deducted from their needs;  no earnings exemption is allowed to determine eligibility.  If the combined assets of the sponsor and the applicant exceed the assets limits for SFI, the applicant is not eligible. Policy 02-04-05

Refugee claimants are eligible for SFI if they meet all eligibility criteria.  Visitors to Canada who are on a Minister's Permit are not eligible for SFI.  Policy 02-04-05

British Columbia


Persons who are residents on Indian Reserves are not ordinarily eligible for income assistance.  The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs is responsible for the administration of public assistance on reserves.  Social assistance benefits may be granted by the Ministry of Social Services to non-Indian status applicants living on commercial property located on Indian Reserve land, i.e., trailer courts.  Where an applicant with Indian status is off the Reserve, the normal procedures are followed. In such cases, the cost of any income assistance granted will not be billed to Indian and Northern Affairs.    Policy 3.8.1


Residency requirements for regular assistance under the GAIN Act are deemed to be met by any applicant who is a Canadian citizen or who has permanent resident status.  The latter group includes:

- assisted relatives

- private/group-sponsored refugees

- family-sponsored refugees

- government-assisted refugees

- entrepreneurs

- self-employed persons

- retired persons

- other independent immigrants

If there is a party with sponsorship obligations, the applicant is responsible for establishing that support is no longer available.

Persons who are not permanent residents in Canada are ineligible for regular assistance but may be eligible for hardship assistance (see section 5.2.10, note "l").  These include:

- persons admitted to Canada on a Minister's permit

- visitors and tourists, foreign students and temporary workers

- persons seeking refugee status

- persons whose immigration status has not yet been determined.   Regulation 3.8; Policy 3.17

Where the applicant has recently obtained Canadian citizenship or is a permanent resident (landed immigrant), the period of residency in Canada and the sponsor's obligations are considered in the determination of eligibility for social assistance.


Persons eligible under the Indian Act for assistance equivalent to assistance

under the Social Assistance Act are not eligible for assistance under the Social Assistance Regulations.    Regulation 9

Northwest Territories

No specific provision made.