Welfare in Canada
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Last updated: December 2021
This resource is not intended to help individuals identify what government transfers they could be entitled to. Individuals living in Nunavut seeking financial assistance should visit this page.
Components of welfare incomes
In Nunavut, households that qualify for basic social assistance payments also qualify for other financial supports including:
- Recurring additional social assistance payments from the territory;
- Federal and territorial child benefits (for households with children); and
- Federal 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 Nunavut in 2020. All four households are assumed to be living in Iqaluit. 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 the basic social assistance, child benefit, and tax credit/ benefits amounts, where applicable.
Components of welfare incomes, 2020
Total annual welfare incomes in 2020 ranged from $9,811 for the unattached single considered employable to $31,870 for the couple with two children. The income of the unattached single with a disability was $12,848 and that of the single parent with one child was $20,241.
Basic social assistance: Monthly Basic Allowance amounts remained unchanged in 2020. Basic social assistance benefits also included a Utilities Benefit amount (based on electrical costs in Nunavut Public Housing) and a Shelter Benefit amount (based on public housing rental amounts), neither of which changed in 2020.
As 95 per cent of households receiving social assistance in Iqaluit live in public housing, the example households are assumed to be living in public housing rather than private market housing. This means that the basic social assistance amounts in the table reflect the amounts that households received after most of their housing costs had been paid. (In Nunavut, social assistance recipients in public housing do not pay fuel, water, sewage, garbage, and/or municipal needs, and their electricity costs are heavily subsidized.)
Additional social assistance: In addition to basic assistance, the unattached single with a disability also received $3,000 ($250 per month) through the Incidental Allowance, which did not change in 2020.
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.
Territorial child benefits: Both households with children also received the Nunavut Child Benefit. The single parent with one child and the couple with two children received the maximum amount of $27.50 per month ($330 per year) per child.
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 unattached single with a disability also received $38 through the GST/HST credit supplement while the single parent with one child received the full amount of $154.
A one-time COVID-19 pandemic-related GST/HST credit top-up payment, delivered in April 2020, provided the base amount of $290 to the unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability, $733 to the single parent with one child, and $886 to the couple with two children.
Territorial tax credits / benefits: No territorial tax credits or benefits were available to the example households in 2020.
COVID-19 pandemic-related payments
All pandemic-related payments available to the example households in Nunavut 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 an additional $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 Nunavut 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.
Total welfare incomes of both the unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability have remained relatively flat since 2012, when total welfare incomes dropped due to a change in the methodology used in this report. That change saw shelter amounts calculated based on public housing rents rather than private market rents (see “Components of welfare incomes” section).
Welfare incomes for these household types increased in recent years due to the introduction of the Basic Allowance, which combined and increased the previous Food and Clothing Allowances. A slight increase occurred in 2020 due to federal COVID-19 pandemic payments.
In 2020, the unattached single considered employable had a welfare income of $9,811, and the unattached single with a disability received $12,848.
Welfare incomes for households with children followed a similar pattern to that of unattached single households, with a sharp decrease in 2012 due to a change in report methodology that based shelter amounts on public housing rents instead of private market rents (see “Components of welfare incomes” section).
Between 2015 and 2019, increases to the welfare incomes of households with children resulted from changes to federal child benefits as well as to the 2018 introduction of the Basic Allowance, which combined and increased the Food and Clothing Allowances. Increases in 2020 resulted from federal COVID-19 pandemic payments.
In 2020, the welfare income of the single parent with one child was $20,241, while that of the couple with two children was $31,870.