Welfare in Canada
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Last updated: November 2020
This resource is not intended to help individuals identify what government transfers they could be entitled to. Individuals living in New Brunswick seeking financial assistance should visit this page.
Components of welfare incomes
In New Brunswick, households that qualify for basic social assistance payments also qualify for other financial support, including:
- Recurring additional social assistance payments (for example, an annual back-to-school allowance);
- Federal and provincial child benefits (for households with children);
- The GST/HST credit and credit supplements; and
- Provincial tax credits or benefits.
Together, these combine with basic social assistance payments to form a household’s total welfare income. Households may receive less if they have income from other sources, or more if they have special health- or disability-related needs.
The table below shows the value and components of welfare incomes for four example household types in 2019. All four households are assumed to be living in Moncton. The child in the single parent family is aged two, and the children in the couple household are aged 10 and 15.
|Single person considered employable||Single person with a disability*||Single parent, one child||Couple, two children|
|Basic social assistance||$6,444||$7,956||$10,644||$11,940|
|Additional SA benefits||$1,200||$1,224||$1,224|
|Federal child benefits||$6,568||$11,083|
|Provincial child benefits||$250||$500|
|Provincial tax credits/benefits||$400||$400||$700||$1,100|
|Total 2019 income||$7,131||$9,843||$20,111||$26,723|
Total annual welfare incomes in 2019 ranged from $7,131 for a single person considered employable to $26,723 for a couple with two children.
Three of the example households received Transitional Assistance (TA) benefits; the single person with a disability received Extended Benefits (EB). Basic TA and EB benefit amounts were unchanged from 2018.
On top of basic social assistance, three households received additional social assistance benefits. The single person with a disability received $1,200 ($100 per month) through the Disability Supplement while the households with children received the Income Supplement Benefit of $1,224 ($102 per month).
Both households with children received the Canada Child Benefit, which increased with inflation in July 2019 from $541 to $553.25 per month for a child under 6 years of age, and from $457 to $466.83 per month for a child aged 6 to 17. They also received the New Brunswick Child Benefit of $250 per child ($20.83 per month).
All four households received the GST/HST credit, which increased in July 2019 with inflation. The single person considered employable and the single person with a disability both received $287, while the single parent with one child received $574 and the couple with two children received $876. The single parent also received $151 from the GST/HST credit supplement.
All four households also received provincial tax credits through the Home Energy Assistance Program ($100 per household per year) and the New Brunswick Harmonized Sales Tax Credit. In addition, the household with two children received the School Supplement tax credit of $100 per child per year.
Changes to welfare incomes
The graphs below show how the total welfare incomes for each of the four example household types have changed over time. The values are in constant 2019 dollars, taking into account the effect of inflation as measured by the national consumer price index.
After many years of hovering at between $4,400 and $5,400, New Brunswick’s historically very low welfare income for a single person considered employable jumped significantly in 2010 due to the elimination of the Interim Assistance program, which made all single persons considered employable eligible for higher Transitional Assistance benefits. From 2010 to 2019, however, the welfare income of a single person considered employable generally declined and stood at $7,131 in 2019.
The income of a single person with a disability was in the $13,000 range until 1993. After 1994’s significant reduction, it has hovered for 25 years at around $10,000. In 2019, it fell below $10,000 for the first time since 2013 and stood at $9,843.
Between 1989 and 2017, welfare incomes of households with children generally increased, to a peak in 2017. Since then, the value of these incomes has declined.
In 2019, the welfare income of a single parent with one child and a couple with two children was $20,111 and $26,723, respectively.
Adequacy of welfare incomes
The adequacy of a household’s total welfare income can be assessed by comparing it to a set threshold of low income. In Canada, there are three commonly used measures:
- The official poverty measure, the Market Basket Measure (MBM), identifies households whose disposable income is less than the cost of a basket of goods and services that represent a basic standard of living.
- The Low Income Measure (LIM) identifies households whose income is substantially below what is typical in society (less than half of the median income).
- The Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) identifies households that are likely to spend a disproportionately large share of their income on the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter.
The table below shows how welfare incomes for the four example household types compared to the three low-income thresholds (after tax). Because LICO and MBM thresholds vary by community size, the threshold used for each is for Moncton.
|Single person considered employable||Single person with a disability||Single parent, one child||Couple, two children|
|Total welfare income||$7,131||$9,843||$20,111||$26,723|
|MBM threshold (Moncton)||$21,374||$21,374||$30,227||$42,748|
|Welfare income minus MBM threshold||-$14,243||-$11,531||-$10,117||-$16,025|
|Welfare income as % of MBM||33%||46%||67%||63%|
|LIM threshold (Canada-wide)||$24,642||$24,642||$34,850||$49,285|
|Welfare income minus LIM threshold||-$17,511||-$14,799||-$14,739||-$22,562|
|Welfare income as % of LIM||29%||40%||58%||54%|
|LICO threshold (Moncton)||$18,520||$18,520||$22,540||$35,017|
|Welfare income minus LICO threshold||-$11,389||-$8,677||-$2,430||-$8,294|
|Welfare income as % of LICO||39%||53%||89%||76%|
The maximum 2019 welfare incomes of all four example household types were below, and sometimes far below, the thresholds of every low-income measure. Households with children had incomes closer to the thresholds than single persons.
The lowest income relative to the thresholds was that of a single person considered employable, who had a welfare income of between only 29 and 39 per cent of the low-income thresholds. The highest was that of a single parent with one child, whose income was between 58 and 89 per cent of the thresholds. A single person with a disability had an income of between 40 and 53 per cent of the thresholds, and a couple with two children had an income of between 54 and 76 per cent of the thresholds.
Given that the MBM is Canada’s official poverty measure, and that having an income less than 75 per cent of the MBM is classified as “deep poverty,” all four of the example households would have been living in deep poverty in 2019.