Welfare in Canada

New Brunswick

Last updated: December 2021

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:

  • Recurring additional social assistance payments from the province;
  • Federal and provincial child benefits (for households with children); and
  • Federal and provincial tax credits or benefits.

Together, these combine 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. In 2020, these households were also eligible for benefits introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The table below shows the value of the welfare income components of the four example household types in New Brunswick in 2020. All four households are assumed to be living in Moncton. The child in the single parent family is two years old and the children in the couple household are ten and 15. COVID-19 pandemic-related payments are included in either the basic social assistance, child benefit, and tax credit/benefits amounts, where applicable.

Components of welfare incomes, 2020


Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Total annual welfare incomes in 2020 ranged from $7,643 for the unattached single considered employable to $28,454 for the couple with two children. The total welfare income of the single parent with one child was $21,293 and that of the couple with two children was $28,454.

Basic social assistance: The unattached single considered employable and the households with children received Transitional Assistance (TA) benefits, and the unattached single with a disability received Extended Benefits (EB). Basic TA and EB benefit amounts for the unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability were increased and indexed to inflation effective May 1, 2020. The amounts for the single parent with one child and the couple with two children remained unchanged in 2020.

Additional social assistance: On top of basic social assistance, three households received additional benefits. The unattached single with a disability received $1,200 ($100 per month) through the Disability Supplement, and the households with children received the Income Supplement Benefit of $1,224 (an average of $102 per month).

Federal child benefits: Both households with children received the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), which increased with inflation in July 2020 from $553.25 to $563.75 per month for a child under six years of age and from $466.83 to $475.67 per month for a child aged six to 17. In addition, they received a one-time COVID-19 pandemic-related CCB top-up payment of $300 per child in May.

Provincial child benefits: Both households with children received the New Brunswick Child Tax Benefit of $250 per child ($20.83 per child per month).

Federal tax credits / benefits: All four households received the GST/HST credit, which increased in July 2020 with inflation. The unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability both received $293, the single parent with one child received $586, and the couple with two children received $894. The single parent with one child also received the full $154 GST/HST credit supplement amount.

A one-time COVID-19 pandemic-related GST/HST credit top-up payment, delivered in April 2020, provided the basic amount of $290 to both the unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability. The single parent with one child received $733 and the couple with two children received $886.

Provincial tax credits / benefits: 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 ($300 per year for the single individuals, $600 for the single parent with one child, and $800 for the couple with two children). In addition, the household with two children received the School Supplement tax credit of $100 per child per year.

COVID-19 pandemic-related payments

All pandemic-related payments available to the example New Brunswick households came from federal programs (i.e., the GST/HST credit and Canada Child Benefit). In total, the unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability received $290 related to the pandemic, the single parent with one child received $1,033, and the couple with two children received $1,486. These amounts are included in, and are not in addition to, the benefits described in the Components section above.

COVID-19 pandemic-related payments, 2020

Changes to welfare incomes

The graphs below show how the total welfare incomes for each of the four example household types in New Brunswick have changed over time. Note that the values are in 2020 constant dollars, and not in nominal dollars. This takes into account the effect of inflation as measured by the national consumer price index given that inflation reduces real dollar values over time.

Between 1986 and 2009, New Brunswick’s historically very low welfare income for the unattached single considered employable hovered at around $5,000. It then jumped significantly in 2010, when the elimination of the Interim Assistance program made all unattached singles eligible for higher Transitional Assistance benefits. From 2010 to 2019, however, the welfare income of the unattached single considered employable gradually declined. In 2020, their welfare income increased to $7,643, largely due to COVID-19 pandemic-related payments.

The income of the unattached single with a disability was in the $13,000 range until 1994, after which it fell by nearly $3,000 and has hovered since then at around $10,000. In 2020, it stood at $10,411, which is the highest value since 2003, largely due to COVID-19 pandemic-related payments.

Between 1989 and 2017, the welfare incomes of households with children generally increased. Between 2017 and 2019, the value of these incomes declined slightly but increased again in 2020, primarily due to COVID-19 pandemic-related payments.

In 2020, the welfare income of the single parent with one child was $21,293, while that of the couple with two children was $28,454. These are the highest income levels across the time series.

Adequacy of welfare incomes

The adequacy of a household’s total welfare income can be assessed by comparing it to a set threshold of poverty and/or low income.

In Canada, there are two commonly used measures of poverty:

  • Canada’s Official Poverty Line, 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.
  • Deep Income Poverty (MBM-DIP) identifies households whose disposable income is less than 75 per cent of the MBM.

There are also two commonly used measures of low income:

  • 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.

Note that MBM thresholds vary by province and community size, and LICO thresholds vary by community size, and so those for Moncton are used in the analysis below. As well, both the MBM and LIM thresholds are estimates based on increasing the 2019 thresholds to account for inflation.

Note also that none of the poverty or low-income measures currently in use in Canada account for the higher cost of living faced by persons with disabilities, and thus these additional costs are not reflected in our analysis.

More information about the thresholds is available in the methodology section.

A table containing comparisons of the welfare incomes of the four example household types in New Brunswick with all four poverty / low-income thresholds is available for download.

Poverty threshold comparisons

The figures below compare 2020 welfare incomes for the four example household types to the MBM and MBM-DIP thresholds for Moncton.

The welfare incomes of all four example household types in New Brunswick were below, and in some cases very far below, Canada’s Official Poverty Line in 2020, which means that all four households were living in poverty. All four households were also living in deep poverty in 2020, as defined by the MBM-DIP.

The unattached single considered employable had the lowest income relative to the poverty thresholds. Their income was $8,541 below the deep income poverty threshold and $13,936 below the poverty line. This means their income was only 47 per cent of the MBM-DIP and only 35 per cent of the MBM.

The unattached single with a disability fared somewhat better, with an income that was $5,773 below the deep income poverty threshold and $11,168 below the poverty line. In other words, their income was 64 per cent of the MBM-DIP and 48 per cent of the MBM.

Note that the poverty experienced by persons with disabilities is under-represented, given that neither the MBM nor the MBM-DIP account for the additional costs of disability.

The incomes of households with children were closer to the poverty thresholds compared to the incomes of the unattached single households.

The single parent with one child fared best relative to the poverty thresholds. Their income was $1,596 below the deep income poverty threshold and $9,225 below the poverty line. This means their income was 93 per cent of the MBM-DIP and 70 per cent of the MBM.

The income of the couple with two children was $3,915 below the deep income poverty threshold and $14,705 below the poverty line. In other words, their income was 88 per cent of the MBM-DIP and 66 per cent of the MBM.

Low-income threshold comparisons

In many instances, the welfare incomes of the example households were roughly half of the low-income thresholds, as shown in the table linked above.

The lowest income relative to these thresholds was that of the unattached single considered employable, whose total welfare income was only 30 per cent of the LIM and 41 per cent of the LICO. The highest was that of the single parent with one child, whose welfare income was 59 per cent of the LIM and 94 per cent of the LICO.

The unattached single with a disability had an income of 41 per cent of the LIM and 56 per cent of the LICO. The income of the couple with two children was 56 per cent of the LIM and 81 per cent of the LICO.

Changes to adequacy of welfare incomes

The graph below shows the total welfare incomes of each of the four example household types in New Brunswick since 2002 as a percentage of the MBM, which indicates changes in their level of poverty over time. A rise in the trendline indicates an improvement in their level of poverty while a decline indicates a worsening of their poverty.

Note that the MBM thresholds reflect the base in use in each year in question (i.e., the 2000, 2008, and 2018 bases; the latter two are indicated with vertical lines in each graph). Rebasing creates a sufficiently higher threshold than that using a previous base, which typically results in a worsening of poverty in the year in which the new base is used. As noted above, MBM thresholds vary by province and community size, and so Moncton is used. Also note that the 2020 MBM thresholds are estimates. More information is in the methodology section.

The welfare income of the unattached single considered employable was lowest relative to the poverty line and remained at or below 41 per cent of the MBM across the entire time series. Their income relative to the poverty line was extremely low in the first eight years of the time series, hovering at around the 25 per cent mark until 2009. After a significant improvement in 2010 (to 41 per cent of the poverty line), their income stagnated for seven years relative to the poverty line. Rebasing of the MBM in 2018 saw a decline to 34 per cent, followed by a slight decline in 2019, and then a slight improvement in 2020, to 35 per cent of the poverty line.

The welfare income of the unattached single with a disability saw a generally worsening trend in their poverty across the time series. Their income was 60 per cent of the poverty line in 2002, declined to 57 per cent in 2006, then fell to 53 per cent with the 2008 MBM rebasing. Over the succeeding nine years it hovered at around 53 per cent. In 2018, MBM rebasing resulted in another decline, to 47 per cent of the poverty line. In 2020, their income was 48 per cent of the poverty line.

Among the four example households, the welfare income of the single parent with one child fared best relative to the poverty line, but ended the time series at a slightly lower level than it began. Their income stood at 72 per cent of the poverty line in 2002 and saw modest increases to 2007, reaching 77 per cent. The 2008 MBM rebasing saw a worsening of their level of poverty to 70 per cent of the poverty line. After hovering at about that level for the following five years, 2014 saw the beginning of a steady improvement, to a peak of 79 per cent of the poverty line in 2017. Rebasing of the MBM in 2018 again saw their level of poverty worsen, to 67 per cent. 2020 saw a slight improvement, to 70 per cent of the poverty line.

The welfare income of the couple with two children followed a very similar trendline to that of the single parent but started and ended the time series at almost the same level relative to the poverty line. Highs in 2007 and 2017, of 66 per cent and 74 per cent respectively, were followed by downturns with rebasing of the MBM in 2008 and 2018. The low point of 58 per cent of the poverty line was reached in 2012, which was followed by a general improvement through to 2017. In 2020, their income stood at 66 per cent of the poverty line.