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Canada - Social Security and Welfare

All those who earn money in Canada are expected to make contributions to the social security system. Most workers will have this automatically deducted from their salary each month, although those who are self employed are able to make the contributions when they complete their tax return. As each province is responsible for its own social security system it is a good idea to check with them when you arrive in the country for the contribution rates that are required.

In order to be a part of this system you will need to have a social security number. This number consists of 9 digits and without it you are not able to work in Canada. You can contact your local Service Canada Centre in order to apply for a social security number. If you have the status of a temporary resident then you will need to send your work permit and another form of ID such as your passport, birth certificate or marriage certificate.

The social security system provides workers and residents with some healthcare benefits. All residents can have a Medicare card which entitles them to free healthcare in the province that they are resident in. Some provinces make a separate charge for this system but others pay for it from taxation or contributions.

There are several child benefits available through the social security system. The first of these is the Universal Child Care Benefit which is available to all children under the age of 6 who meet the eligibility criteria. The parent or guardian of the child makes the claim and must have the child in residence with them at the time. The person who claims must be the person responsible for the care of the child and must be a resident of Canada. This is paid at a rate of $100 per month per child and can be claimed from the first month following the child’s birth. Another child benefit is the Child Tax Benefit. This is a monthly benefit which is based on the income of the family. Included in this payment are any payments for a disabled child or benefit supplement. Parents can also claim the Fitness Tax Credit for children which is designed to encourage active and healthy lifestyles.

A disabled person may be eligible for one of a number of benefits. There are some which are designed to help those with long term disabilities and others which are for those who have a short term injury which is causing problems with everyday living. Applications for these benefits can be made to the local Service Canada centre. You may be asked to provide evidence of a disability, so a medical certificate may be required.

Employment insurance is one of the main benefits of the social security system. This is a temporary benefit which is paid out and covers any number of reasons why a person may not be in work and in need of financial assistance, so unemployment, maternity, sickness benefits and benefits for compassionate leave are all included under this title. In addition, self-employed fishermen can claim fishing benefits. Contributions must have been made before workers are eligible for any benefits under the EI title but expats are eligible once they have made contributions.

The Old Age social security pension is paid out to those who are aged 65 and over. In order to claim this benefit a person must have been a citizen or legal resident for a minimum of 10 years, as well as making the necessary contributions to the system. It is not essential for a person to give up work before they are able to claim this pension. In addition to this pension there is the Canada Pension Plan which is another contributory scheme. From this a person may also claim benefits for disability and survivor benefits.

Canada has a number of agreements with other countries which allows for social security contributions in other countries to be taken into consideration when calculating eligibility for some benefits. Not all benefits may be taken into consideration for this though. Details on these agreements can be obtained from the Service Canada centre, who can also detail the requirements from you in order to make any claims.

Useful Resources

Canada Revenue Agency
Tel: 1 800 387 1193

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners


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