Welfare in Canada
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Last updated: November 2019
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
Households that qualify for basic social assistance payments also qualify for other financial support including:
- GST/HST credit
- Provincial/territorial tax credits or benefits
- Federal and provincial/territorial child benefits (for households with children)
- Recurring additional social assistance payments (for example, an annual back-to-school allowance)
Together, these combine with basic social assistance payments to form the total welfare income of a household. Households may receive less if they have income from other sources, while some households may receive more if they have special health- or disability-related needs.
The table below shows the value and components of welfare incomes for four household types living in Moncton in 2018.
|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||$6,448||$10,881|
|Provincial child benefits||$250||$500|
|Provincial tax credits/benefits||$400||$400||$700||$1,100|
|Total 2018 income||$7,126||$9,839||$19,978||$26,505|
Total welfare incomes in New Brunswick ranged from $7,126 for the single person considered employable to $26,505 for the couple with two children.
In New Brunswick, all of the example households received Transitional Assistance benefits except the single person with a disability, who received Extended Benefits. On top of basic social assistance, some households received additional social assistance benefits, as shown in the table. The single person with a disability received $1,200 ($100 per month) through the Disability Supplement, while the households with children received the monthly Income Supplement Benefit ($1,224 annually) to offset high shelter costs.
Both households with children received the Canada Child Benefit which increased in July 2018 from $533 to $541 per month for a child under the age of six and from $450 to $457 per month for a child aged between six and 17. They also received the New Brunswick Child Benefit of $250 per child ($20.83 per month).
All households received the GST credit, which increased in July 2018 in line with inflation, and 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 illustrative household types have changed over time. The values are in constant 2018 dollars, taking into account the effect of inflation as measured by the national consumer price index.
A single person considered employable had a very low welfare income in New Brunswick until 2010; it then jumped significantly. This was due to the province’s decision to abolish the Interim Assistance program, so all single persons considered employable became eligible for Transitional Assistance benefits.
Following this rise in 2010, the welfare income of a single person considered employable declined, and in 2018 it stood at $7,126.
A single person with a disability had a welfare income over $12,000 until 1993; it then dropped significantly. Since then, it has hovered around $10,000, and in 2018 stood at $9,839.
The welfare incomes of the single parent with one child and the couple with two children have, overall, been increasing since 1989.
The welfare incomes of households with children rose from 2015 to 2017, largely as a result of changes to federal child benefits and the introduction of the New Brunswick Harmonized Sales Tax Credit in 2016.
In 2018, the welfare income of the single parent with one child and the couple with two children dropped slightly. They stood at $19,978 and $26,505, 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 (also known as the Market Basket Measure or 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 of poverty (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 measure (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 in New Brunswick for the four household types compared to three low income thresholds (after tax). Because LICO and MBM thresholds vary by community size, the threshold used is for Moncton.
|Single person considered employable||Single person with a disability||Single parent, one child||Couple, two children|
|Total welfare income||$7,126||$9,839||$19,978||$26,505|
|MBM threshold (Moncton)||$18,206||$18,206||$25,747||$36,412|
|Welfare income minus MBM threshold||-$11,080||-$8,367||-$5,769||-$9,907|
|Welfare income as % of MBM||39%||54%||78%||73%|
|LIM threshold (Canada-wide)||$24,054||$24,054||$34,017||$48,108|
|Welfare income minus LIM threshold||-$16,928||-$14,215||-$14,039||-$21,603|
|Welfare income as % of LIM||30%||41%||59%||55%|
|LICO threshold (Moncton)||$18,166||$18,166||$22,109||$34,347|
|Welfare income minus LICO threshold||-$11,040||-$8,327||-$2,131||-$7,842|
|Welfare income as % of LICO||39%||54%||90%||77%|
For each household type, the maximum welfare income fell well below all of the low income measures. As a proportion, the biggest gap was for single adults considered employable — their welfare income was between 30 per cent and 39 per cent of the low income thresholds. The smallest gap was for single parents with one child — their welfare income was between 59 per cent and 90 per cent of the low income thresholds.