Social Assistance Summaries

Newfoundland and Labrador
Last updated: June 2021

The Social Assistance Summaries series tracks the number of recipients of social assistance (welfare payments) in each province and territory.

For the total incomes available to those relying on social assistance, visit the Welfare in Canada report.

Program details

Social assistance is the income program of last resort. It is intended for those who have exhausted all other means of financial support. Every province and territory has its own social assistance program(s) and no two are the same.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, social assistance is referred to as Income Support (IS).

IS provides financial benefits and other services to eligible low-income people to assist in meeting daily living expenses. Basic benefits include a family and individual benefit (to assist with expenses such as food, clothing, personal care, household maintenance, and utilities) and a shelter benefit (to assist with rent, mortgage costs, utilities and municipal taxes).

Depending on individual circumstances, recipients may also qualify for non-basic benefits such as municipal tax payments, prescription glasses, and special diets. Recipients can also receive further benefits outside of IS by other departments and agencies such as a prescription drug card, medical transportation and medical equipment.


How many people claim social assistance?

On average, there were just over 22,100 cases (families and single adults) in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Employment and Income Assistance program in 2020, and about 31,400 beneficiaries (individual claimants, their partners, and dependent children). These numbers are similar to the previous three years. Over the longer term, the number of cases and beneficiaries fell consistently during the 2000s but has fallen at a slower pace since.

Data notes

  • The data reflects the average number of cases and beneficiaries over the calendar year (January 1 to December 31).
  • There are three First Nations reserves in Newfoundland and Labrador. Conne River is self-governed and operates its own social services programs. Its case and beneficiary numbers are not included in the data. The two other reserves in Labrador are Natuashish and Sheshatshiu. From April 1, 2016, the delivery of Income Support was devolved to the Innu and statistics for these communities are no longer included in the data.
  • Click here for more information about how the data is gathered