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 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 support including:
- Recurring additional social assistance payments (for example, an annual back-to-school allowance);
- Federal and territorial child benefits (for households with children); and
- The GST/HST credit and credit supplements.
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 Iqaluit. 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||$9,228||$9,228||$11,436||$17,520|
|Additional SA benefits||$3,000|
|Federal child benefits||$6,568||$11,083|
|Territorial child benefits||$330||$660|
|Territorial tax credits/benefits|
|Total 2019 income||$9,515||$12,515||$19,059||$30,139|
Total annual welfare incomes in 2019 ranged from $9,515 for the single person considered employable to $30,139 for the couple with two children.
2019 was the first full year that the Basic Allowance was paid to social assistance recipients. The Basic Allowance combined and increased the previous Food and Clothing Allowances in July 2018. Basic social assistance also included a utilities benefit (based on the electrical costs in Nunavut Public Housing) and a shelter benefit (based on public housing rental amounts).
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 what households had 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).
In addition to basic assistance, the single person with a disability also received $3,000 ($250 per month) through the Incidental Allowance.
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.
Both households with children also received the Nunavut Child Benefit. The single parent of one child and the couple with two children received the maximum amount of $27.50 per month per child.
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 in the GST/HST credit supplement.
No territorial tax credits or benefits were available to households on social assistance in Nunavut in 2019.
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.
Total welfare incomes of a single person considered employable and a single person 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 family types increased in 2018 and 2019 due to the introduction of the Basic Allowance, which combined and increased the previous Food and Clothing Allowances.
In 2019, a single person considered employable had a welfare income of $9,515, and a single person with a disability received $12,515.
Welfare incomes for households with children followed a similar pattern to that of single person households, with a sharp decrease in 2012 due to a change in methodology which based shelter amounts on public housing rents instead of private market rents (see “Components of welfare incomes” section).
Changes to federal child benefits between 2015 and 2017 resulted in increases to the welfare incomes of households with children. The introduction of the Basic Allowance in July 2018, which combined and increased the Food and Clothing Allowances, caused welfare incomes to increase again.
In 2019, the welfare income of a single parent with one child was $19,059, and that of a couple with two children was $30,139.