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The Canadian government at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels, offers social security programs and services. Information on benefits can be obtained from the social services departments located in the provinces and cities and through the Canada Employment Centres (CEC). A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is required to avail of any of the social security benefits.

SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBER

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) serves as an identification number for each person. It is used for filing income taxes, applying for employment and availing of social security benefits, among others. An immigrant can apply for SIN at the Department of Social Development Canada (SDC) office in his/her area. No fee is being charged for first-time applicants. For complete information on SIN, an immigrant may visit the website www.sdc.gc.ca. 

SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS

Family Allowance and Child Tax Credit

Canadian residents may be entitled to a monthly family allowance for dependent children, who are below 18 years of age. To receive family allowance, at least one (1) parent must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.

The Federal Child Tax Credit serves to supplement family allowance to help middle and low-income families meet the cost of raising children.

Canada Pension Plan

The Canada Pension Plan is provided to workers with income protection in the event of retirement, disability or death. It matures when the contributor turns 60 years old provided he/she has completed the compulsory contribution. The contributor can claim disability pensions until age 65 and monthly benefits for his/her dependent children.

Old Age Security

The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is given to people 65 years of age or over who have lived in Canada for at least 10 years. A reduced pension may be given to those who do not fully meet the residence requirements.

Guaranteed Income Supplement

The Guaranteed Income Supplement is an income-tested benefit paid to OAS pensioners who have little or no other income. This is not subject to Canadian income tax. The spouse (between the ages of 60-64) of a low income or deceased pensioner may qualify for a Spouse’s Allowance.

Employment Insurance

Employment Insurance is a benefit out of the joint contributions made by the worker and the employer during the worker’s active employment. This benefit is also available for workers whose unemployment is due to the birth or adoption of a child, enrolment in a national training program, work sharing or job training.

Worker’s Compensation

Worker’s Compensation is available for workers who are injured while at work. This may be in the form of financial benefits, medical and rehabilitative services.

Public Health Insurance Card

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A health insurance card is used to obtain insurance coverage for essential medical services. An immigrant can apply for this card at the provincial Ministry of Health. The requirements are as follows: 

  1. Birth certificate;
  2. Maple Leaf Card (if not available, present passport, visa and Confirmation of Permanent Residence); and
  3. SIN card.

Social Security

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

In order to receive certain benefits, a child may need a Social Insurance Number. The parent or legal guardian can apply for this but children over the age of 12 can apply for it themselves.

Universal Child Care Benefit

The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) is payable to all eligible children under the age of six years.

Eligibility requires:

  • The child to live with the claimant and be under six years old
  • For the claimant to be the primary caregiver
  • The claimant must be a resident of Canada and the spouse or common-law partner must be a citizen/permanent resident/protected person or temporary resident

UCCB can be claimed from the month following the child's birth and is paid in instalments of C $100 per month per child.

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.

Other benefits may be available for families with children from provincial or territorial governments.

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.

INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL SECURITY AGREEMENTS

The Social Security Agreement between the Philippines and Canada became effective on 1 March 1997. This was amended by a Supplementary Agreement that became effective on 1 July 2001.

The Philippines also signed an Understanding on Social Security with Quebec on 23 October 1996, which became effective on 1 November 1998. This was amended by a Supplementary Understanding that was signed on 14 April 2000.

The salient features of these agreements are as follows:

  • Equality of treatment: A covered Filipino, including his/her dependents and survivors, is eligible for social security benefits under the same conditions as Canadian nationals.
  • Export of Benefits: A covered Filipino shall continue to receive his/her benefits wherever he/she decides to reside.
  • Totalization: Contributions or creditable periods in both countries shall be added, excluding overlaps, to determine qualification for benefits.
  • Payment of Benefits: Each country shall pay a fraction of the benefit due from their respective systems, in proportion to the actual contributions/creditable periods.
  • Mutual Administrative Assistance: A covered member or beneficiary may file his/her claims with the designated liaison agencies of the Philippines or Canada, which shall accordingly facilitate processing of claims.