The cost of living crisis is affecting almost everyone’s standard of living in BC. High housing and food prices and increases in interest rates can leave people with hard choices every month. If you need financial help, the federal government and social services in BC offer many programs to help you make ends meet during these difficult times.
Financial Aid in Canada
All levels of government offer various types of financial aid in Canada. The kind of assistance you receive varies based on the level of government that distributes it. Federally, you can receive tax credits and direct payments to help with the cost of living. Social services in BC provide rental and income help, child benefits, and daycare subsidies. Municipal governments also offer services such as food banks.
Federal financial assistance
Federal government programs include refundable and non-refundable tax credits. You may also qualify for direct payments. A non-refundable tax credit lowers the income tax you must pay but doesn’t generate a tax refund. An example of a non-refundable tax credit is the basic personal exemption. The basic personal exemption lets you earn a certain amount without paying income tax.
A refundable tax credit reduces the amount of tax you must pay. It can also generate a tax refund. The GST/HST tax credit is an example of a refundable tax credit. If you qualify, the government pays you the GST/HST tax credit every quarter.
A direct payment is money the government sends you periodically. Payments are typically made monthly or quarterly. Direct payments include the GST/HST tax credit, the Climate Action Incentive Payment and the Canada child benefit.
To qualify for benefits from the government, you must file your income tax return each year. The government bases the benefits you receive on your income. If you don’t file your income tax return, the government won’t have enough information to issue any benefits to you. If you want to know what you may qualify for, use the federal government’s benefits finder for more details.
Provincial Social Services in BC
The provincial government in BC offers its residents several programs to assist with the high cost of living. You can get housing support, income support and help with the cost of raising children.
Rental Assistance Program
BC is one of the most expensive provinces in Canada, partly because rent is so high. The Rental Assistance Program in BC is a monthly program that helps low-income residents with their rent. You need to apply for the program and reapply yearly to continue receiving rental assistance. To qualify, you must meet several specific criteria, some of which are:
- A total household income of less than $40,000 per year before taxes
- Some or all of your household income must come from a job
- Having one or more dependent children
Another program to help BC residents is income assistance. Social services in BC offer financial help if you are out of work or not earning enough to meet your basic needs. Income assistance is also for those who cannot work or are waiting for funds that haven’t arrived. You can apply online for income assistance. Having the necessary information available when you apply will make the process easier.
Some additional programs the province offers are income supplements and bus passes for low-income seniors. Dental and optical services may be available for those who receive income or disability assistance.
If you are struggling but don’t meet the criteria to qualify for income assistance, you should still contact social services in BC. You may be eligible for hardship assistance if you don’t qualify for income assistance but still need help.
BC family benefit program
The BC family benefit Program gives many parents of children extra money each month if they meet the program’s criteria. The provincial government adds the BC family benefit to the Canada child benefit you receive from the Federal Government. You may receive an additional amount if you’re a single-parent family.
The federal government calculates your Canada child benefit on the income you report on your income tax return. If your child or children are registered for the Canada child benefit, your enrollment in the BC family benefit Program is automatic. You don’t need to complete another application. However, if your child or children are not registered for the Canada child benefit, you must apply to qualify for it and the BC family benefit.
Affordable Child Care Benefit
Two types of daycare subsidies may be available if you have a child or children who require childcare. You may be eligible for the Affordable Child Care Benefit. The benefit is a type of daycare subsidy that you apply for. You must renew your application each year to continue to receive the benefit. If you qualify, you will get a monthly payment to help you with the cost of childcare.
The other benefit is the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative (CCFRI). You don’t need to apply for this program. However, your child or children must be enrolled with a daycare provider participating in the CCFRI. The purpose of this initiative is to make childcare more affordable.
Municipalities in BC offer a wide range of support to residents—some focus on helping people with housing and food. Shelters, shelter helplines and settlement agencies for immigrants can help if you’re experiencing a housing crisis.
Food banks are available if you can’t pay all your expenses and buy food. BC has many food banks to help with groceries if you’re experiencing food insecurity.
Government debt relief
Since interest rates have increased so much, you may find that paying your mortgage and other debts is making life completely unaffordable. Higher interest rates have increased mortgage payments and payments for lines of credit and loans. Your mortgage payment or payments on other debts may have increased by hundreds of dollars a month, leaving much less money for other essentials.
Social services in BC offer free resources like financial literacy to help you understand and manage your debt, such as help with budgeting. Financial literacy is critical in helping you manage the increase in the cost of living.
Although the provincial government doesn’t help you get rid of your debt, there are government-approved debt relief programs that can. The Office of the Superintendent Of Bankruptcy oversees Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) who can provide debt relief solutions. LITs complete thorough training programs and are licensed by the government. They offer credit counselling, Consumer Proposals to pay off your debt with a manageable payment plan and Bankruptcy as debt relief options.
Where to Get Debt Help
Being unable to pay your debts and cover your living expenses can cause anxiety, stress, and sleepless nights. Are you anxious about reaching out for help? or figuring out who to talk to about your debt? Don’t be. You don’t have to carry this burden alone. We Can Help.
Our LITs at Allan Marshall and Associates are experts in debt relief. We understand there are many reasons you may have too much debt. We’ll work with you to find the best solution to help you manage, reduce, or eliminate the amount of money you owe. Contact us today for a free consultation by filling out the online form, through our live chat or by calling 1-888-371-8900. We’ll help you get your finances back on track so you can better manage the cost of living in BC.