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Jul 5th, 2012 | By | Category: Low Income

There are many Canadians who struggling to make ends meet. If you have an individual income of $30,000 or less, or a family income of $78,000 or less you will likely qualify for most, if not all, low income grants. Low-income thresholds are levels below which a family of a given size will devote a larger share of income to the necessities of food, shelter and clothing than that of an average family. The middle-income threshold is a measurement of the cost of living that accounts for how much money families of various sizes will need to pay for shelter, food, household operation, child care, furnishings and equipment, clothing, transportation, health and personal care, and other miscellaneous expenses.


Ontario families and single people are receiving $12 billion in tax relief over three years as part of Ontario’s tax reforms. The tax plan is delivering more support for families, creating jobs and helping the economy turn the corner.

  • Nine out of 10 Ontario income tax payers received a permanent, personal income tax cut.
  • 90,000 Ontario taxpayers with low incomes no longer pay Ontario personal income tax.
  • The Ontario Sales Tax Transition Benefit delivered three payments of up to $1,000 per family and up to $300 for single people. The benefit will help an estimated 6.6 million Ontario single people and families adjust to the HST.

Tax Credits and Benefits, Rebates and Exemptions and Lower Prices

You and your family could get money back by claiming a number of Ontario tax credits and benefits, like:

  • The Ontario Sales Tax Credit, which provides up to $265 a year for each person in a low- to moderate-income family.
  • The Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, which provides up to $917 to non-seniors and up to $1,044 to seniors to help with the sales tax on energy costs and property taxes.
  • The Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, which takes 10 per cent off monthly electricity bills for families, farms and small businesses.
  • The Children’s Activity Tax Credit, which helps parents keep their kids active, from music and painting to sports and dance, with up to $51 per child and up to $102 per child with a disability.

For Single People and Families

Below you’ll find a full list of tax credits and benefits available to single people and families in Ontario, including single parent families, seniors and First Nations. To receive these tax credits and benefits – and in some cases, get money – you need to file a personal income tax return, even if you didn’t earn any taxable income. The amount of money you could get is based on a number of factors, including the specific credit/benefit, where you live, your age and income. Maximum amounts of some credits/benefits will increase over time with inflation.


  • Ontario Child Benefit
  • Ontario Child Care Supplement for Working Families (OCCS)
  • Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS)
  • Ontario Sales Tax Transition Benefit
  • Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant
  • Ontario Trillium Benefit

Refundable and Non-refundable Credits

Refundable tax credits can help you reduce or eliminate the amount of tax you owe. Excess refundable credits may be paid as a refund — even if you pay no income tax. Some refundable credits are paid on a quarterly basis while others are paid after your personal income tax return is assessed.

  • Children’s Activity Tax Credit
  • Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit
  • Northern Ontario Energy Credit
  • Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit
  • Ontario Focused Flow-Through Share Tax Credit
  • Ontario Sales Tax Credit
  • Political Contribution Tax Credit

Non-refundable credits help you reduce or eliminate the amount of income tax you owe. Excess non-refundable credits do not create a tax refund.

  • Community Small Business Investment Fund Program
  • Dividend Tax Credit
  • Labour Sponsored Investment Fund Program
  • Ontario Tax Reduction

Healthy Smiles Ontario

Good oral health is important to childrens’ overall health. Yet, for some, regular dental care may not be affordable. Healthy Smiles Ontario is a program for children 17 and under who do not have access to any form of dental coverage. If eligible, your children will get regular dental services at no cost to you. The 36 local public health units across Ontario are leading the program in communities and are working with local partners such as Community Health Centres, primary care providers, dentists, dental hygienists, hospitals, schools and universities to deliver this program.

Who is eligible?

Children 17 and under may be eligible if:

  • They are residents of Ontario;
  • They are members of a household with an Adjusted Family Net Income of $20,000 per year or below; and,
  • They do not have access to any form of dental coverage (including other government-funded programs, like Ontario Works).

You will need to show specific documents during the enrollment process.

To find out more about Healthy Smiles Ontario and to see if you qualify, call the ServiceOntario INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Grant for Students from Low-Income Families

CanLearn ( is the only online post-secondary education resource that provides Canadians with the information and services they need to decide what and where to study and how to cover the costs. The CanLearn site was developed by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments and Canadian learning and career development organizations.

When you apply for a Canada Student Loan, you will automatically be assessed for most Canada Student Grants, that you may be eligible for. You do not need to pay back your grant money. The Canada Student Grants Program uses two standard measurements of income to determine eligibility for grants for students from low- or middle-income families.

You are eligible if you are enrolled in a full-time in a multi-year program that is at least two years in duration (minimum 60 weeks) at a designated post-secondary institution. The Master List of Designated Educational Institutions is updated regularly and contains all the educational institutions where students are eligible to receive Canada Student Loans.


You are eligible if you:

  • apply and qualify for a Canada Student Loan;
  • are from a low-income family as defined by the Canada Student Loans Program; and
  • are enrolled in a full-time in a multi-year program that is at least two years in duration (minimum 60 weeks) at a designated post-secondary institution.

Each institution has its assigned four-digit Educational Institution Code and their name and address. This list is sorted alphabetically by the Educational Institution within each province or territory (international institutions are listed separately). Some educational institutions that were formerly recognized for the purposes of the Canada Student Loans Program may no longer be found on the Master List of Designated Educational Institutions if borrowers have not recently attended these institutions. To confirm whether an educational institution is recognized, please contact your provincial student financial aid authority.

What’s available?

  • $250 per month of study for up to $3,000 per academic year (August 1 to July 31).
  • This grant is available for each year of undergraduate studies, provided you continue to meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Grant money is issued by your province or territory of permanent residence at the beginning and middle of the school year.

Since grant amounts are fixed, the amount you receive may exceed your assessed need.

How can you apply?

Your eligibility for the grant is assessed automatically when you apply and qualify for a Canada Student Loan through your province or territory of permanent residence. Visit “How to Obtain Government Student Loans” for information about applying for a loan.


Homeowner Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program – Homeowner RRAP

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers financial assistance to low-income homeowners for mandatory home repairs that will preserve the quality of affordable housing. The program helps people who live in substandard dwellings and cannot afford to pay for necessary repairs to their home.

Who Can Apply?

Homeowners may qualify for assistance if your property is eligible and if your total household income is at or below the Income Threshold set by CMHC.

Eligible Properties

Your property may be eligible for Homeowner RRAP if your home is:

  • valued below a certain amount;
  • at least five years old; and
  • substandard and needs major repairs in one of the following areas: heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire safety.

Your home may also qualify if work is needed to help reduce overcrowding.

Eligible Repairs

In general, mandatory repairs related to heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire safety are eligible for funding under Homeowner RRAP. The quality of the repairs should ensure the useful life of your home for at least 15 years. All work required to address needed repairs to the structure and systems must be completed in order to receive RRAP assistance. If the cost of mandatory repairs is more than the maximum forgivable loan available, you, as the owner, will be required to cover the additional cost.

Any repairs carried out before the Homeowner RRAP loan is approved in writing are not eligible.

Financial Assistance

Assistance is in the form of a fully forgivable loan. The loan does not have to be repaid if you agree to continue to own and live in this house during the earning period, which could be up to five years (the loan forgiveness period). The amount you could receive is based on the cost of mandatory repairs and the area in which you live. The maximum amount you could receive in Southern areas of Canada is $16,000.

Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant (OSHPTG)

The OSHPTG is an annual grant provided by the province to help senior homeowners with low- and moderate-incomes pay their property taxes.

How much is the OSHPTG?

The grant you receive depends on your marital status, the property taxes you paid and your adjusted family net income. The maximum grant payable for 2010 and subsequent years is $500. The maximum grant payable for 2009 is $250.

You also may be eligible for both the grant and the OEPTC depending on your marital status, the property taxes you paid and your adjusted family net income. The following charts illustrate typical grant amounts and OEPTC amounts at various income levels for single seniors and senior couples based on a range of property taxes paid.


Provincial Rent Bank Program

The Provincial Rent Bank Program is funded by the Province of Ontario. Under this program, tenants facing eviction for non-payment of rent can apply to the local rent bank to receive financial assistance. If a tenant’s application is approved, the outstanding rent is paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant. The Provincial Rent Bank Program helps improve housing stability for those who, due to an emergency or other unforeseen circumstance, are in short-term rental arrears and facing eviction. If a tenant’s application to a Rent Bank is approved, the outstanding rent is paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.

The Provincial Rent Bank program is administered by the province’s 47 municipal service managers (SMs). More than a dozen of the SMs have arrangements with community-based agencies, (e.g. the Salvation Army and the United Way).


It is up to each municipality to determine client eligibility and approve applications for assistance. In many areas, demand for the program exceeds the available supply of dollars. Municipalities may set other eligibility criteria. Please contact your municipal service manager or Rent Bank provider in your area to find out about any additional eligibility requirements. If you are experiencing rent arrears and would like contact information on the Provincial Rent Bank Program in the municipality in which you live, please click here:

Financial Assistance

Typically, a tenant may access up to two months of rental arrears from a Rent Bank. It is up to each municipality to decide whether assistance is provided as a loan or grant. If assistance is provided in the form of a loan, the local municipality determines the terms of repayment. However, please note that loans are provided on an interest-free basis. Typically, a tenant can apply for assistance only once every two years. However – at the municipality’s discretion, and where assistance is provided as a loan – when tenants pay back their loan sooner than the two-year period, the municipality may allow them to re-apply for assistance under the program. If you receive notice that your landlord has applied for an eviction order due to short-term rent arrears, you should contact your municipal service manager or Rent Bank provider as soon as possible. The length of time it takes to process a Rent Bank application varies, but the approval process must take place quickly since the eviction process, once initiated, can take less than a month.

Can you borrow from the Provincial Rent Bank to pay arrears on utilities?

The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) Energy Emergency Fund (EEF) provides assistance to low-income Ontarians, including social assistance recipients, facing energy-related emergencies. The EEF is for energy arrears, security deposits and reconnection costs. Assistance is paid directly to energy providers. Please contact your municipal service manager for information on the Energy Emergency Fund.


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