Social Security Benefits in Canada

Information on the Canadian social security system, with details on who can apply, where and how to register with the authorities and what contributions and benefits to expect...

The Canadian social security system incorporates federal law on welfare issues such as unemployment insurance and old age security, as well as provincial policies and programmes on welfare issues, such as education, social services and social assistance.

The Canada Benefits website provides information on all the government benefits available to residents of Canada. These include, amongst others, retirement, unemployment, disability and healthcare benefits.

Social Insurance Number

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number which is required to work in Canada and to access government benefit schemes.

Applications for a SIN number can be made at a Service Canada Centre or by mail. Temporary residents in Canada need to present their work or study permit, and another supporting document; for example marriage certificate.

Healthcare Benefits

The healthcare system in Canada is publicly funded. The federal government sets healthcare standards for the whole country based on the Canada Health Act. However, healthcare is delivered by provincially based Medicare systems. Those wishing to receive free healthcare must hold a provincial healthcare card, which is issued by the relevant provincial ministry of health. Generally, Medicare is provided for through taxes but some provinces charge a premium. Check with the relevant provincial health ministry for details.

Child Benefits

The Government of Canada introduced a new Canada Child Benefit system in July 2016. This system replaced all previous types of child benefit. The individual who is primarily in charge of the care and upbringing of the child should apply for the CCB via the Canada Revenue Agency.

  • The Government of Canada website has more details on Child Benefit, who is eligble and how to apply

Canada Child Tax Benefit

Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) is a non-taxable monthly payment given to eligible families to help with costs of raising children under 18. This benefit includes Child Disability Benefit (CDB) and National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS), a benefit for low-income families. The CCTB is calculated based on family net income.

Children are also eligible for the Children's Fitness Tax Credit, a non-refundable tax credit to encourage healthy living and physical activity in children.

Disability Benefits

There are a number of benefits and financial assistance available to people with disabilities living in Canada. The Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits are paid to people with a long-term disability which prevents them from working on a regular basis. Applications for the benefit can be made at a Service Canada Centre or by mail.

Employment Benefits

Employment Insurance or EI is a national scheme which provides temporary financial assistance to Canadians who qualify to receive benefits for a number of reasons. The EI scheme includes unemployment benefits, maternity and parental benefits, sickness benefits, compassionate care benefits and fishing benefits (for self-employed fishermen). Newcomers to Canada can also receive EI, however they must have deposited into their EI account to be eligible.

Old Age Security Pension

This is a monthly payment to most Canadians aged 65 years or over. Eligibility requirements apply; for example, the person must have lived in the country for at least ten years to be eligible and be a Canadian citizen or legal resident.

Canada Pension Plan

This is a contributory scheme for an individual and their family. Employers may also contribute to this scheme. Benefits available include disability benefits, pension sharing, credit splitting schemes and survivor benefits.

Further Information