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Finding Assistance Programs for Seniors Living in Canada



Assistance Programs for Seniors Living in Canada

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Leaving the security of a job can be a stressful experience for adults moving into retirement, as they may be reasonably concerned about whether they can afford the next phase of their lives by living off the savings they’ve accumulated over the years.

Those from lower-income households may be particularly concerned, as their savings may not be as sizable as they would have hoped for their retirement.

Fortunately, Canada provides various assistance programs for older adults to ensure they can afford their living through retirement, whether they decide to age in place or live in a community like Seasons Retirement.

Below, we’ll review the assistance programs available to older adults and the qualifications needed to reap these benefits.

Assistance programs available for older adults in Canada

Canada has a number of different programs in place to help older adults move into retirement without worrying about whether they’ll be able to enjoy their time or need to return to work to make ends meet.

Let’s examine these programs in further detail, including what they offer, how to qualify, and how to apply:

The Canada Pension Plan

The CPP is a monthly taxable benefit that replaces some of an older adult’s income when they retire. Individuals who receive the CPP will benefit for the remainder of their lives.

Older persons must meet the following criteria to apply for this benefit:

  • Must have contributed to the CPP at least once in their lifetime
  • Are 60 years old (or older)

To contribute to the CPP, older adults can add funds they gained from work done within Canada or take money from credits they received from a former partner or spouse.

To apply for the CPP, older adults must complete the form provided by and apply before they would like their pension benefits to begin.

Their earnings throughout their working life, the money they’ve contributed to the CPP in the past, and the age at which they decided to start their pension plan will affect the financial support that older adults receive from the CPP.

Guaranteed Income Supplement

Similar to the CPP, the GIS is a regular monthly payment that older adults receive after they retire. However, instead of replacing a portion of their income, this program provides an extra or ‘supplemental’ income for older adults on top of their regular income and CPP.

To qualify for the GIS, older adults must meet the requirements:

  • Be a minimum of 65 years of age
  • They currently reside in Canada
  • They have applied for and received the Old Age Security (OAS) plan
  • Their current income falls below the annual GIS threshold based on their marital status at the time of applying

Unlike the CPP, this supplemental income is not taxable. It’s based on the applicant’s current income and is for older adults residing in low-income households.

In most situations, older adults do not have to apply for the GIS. However, the government of Canada may need more information to enroll them automatically. In that case, older adults must apply for the GIS benefit manually, which they can do via the Canada website’s contact page.

Old Age Security (OAS)

The OAS benefit is a monthly payment that older adults can receive if they are 65 or older. In most situations, Service Canada will automatically enroll qualifying adults to begin receiving this payment, but there are some circumstances where older adults must apply manually.

Older persons will receive this payment a month after they turn 65. Their income and how long they’ve lived in Canada (after turning 18) affect the amount they receive.

Note that older adults have to pay taxes on the OAS benefit.

Legion Veteran Affairs senior support

Older adults who previously served in the Canadian military may qualify for the senior support programs offered by Veteran Affairs Canada. These benefits are for veterans wishing to live in their own homes and age in place.

The benefits offered to older adults through Legion are as follows:

  • Financial assistance for health services, medical appliances and hearing aids
  • Mobility support and home adaptations
  • Home maintenance services
  • Meal preparation services and housekeeping
  • Long-term care support services

These at-home care benefits are for veterans, their spouses, and/or dependents. To apply for these benefits and determine which ones they qualify for, older adults must contact a Legion Command Service Officer, who will explain the next step of the application process.

Allowance for the Survivor Benefit

The Allowance for the Survivor program is a regular payment to older adults whose spouse or common-law partner has passed away and who haven’t remarried since their death.

To receive the benefits from this program, older persons must also meet the following criteria:

  • They are between the ages of 60-64
  • They currently reside in Canada
  • Their current income is below the Allowance for the Survivor threshold

Payments from this benefit will begin for older adults a month after the death of their spouse or partner in the month after their 60th birthday.

To apply for this program, older adults can contact Service Canada via their website’s contact page or by calling their toll-free number.


The government of Canada provides a vast range of programs for older adults to live comfortably in retirement, whether they decide to age in place or switch to a retirement community.

If you or your loved one qualify for any of the programs mentioned above, we recommend applying for these benefits as part of your retirement planning process to ensure all finances are in order before switching from secular work to retirement.

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