Ageing is inevitable and it comes with plenty of benefits. Baby Boomers can retire in a city they love, focus on their passions and spend more time with friends and family. Another benefit that can greatly impact your lifestyle as a senior is the financial assistance you’re eligible for to help you secure proper housing.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) found that the number of senior households living in core housing increased by 21% from 2011 to 2016. CMHC defines core housing need as housing that, “falls below at least one of the adequacy, affordability, or suitability standards and [a person] would have to spend 30% or more of [their] total before-tax income for alternative local housing that is acceptable.”
While many situations can prompt a senior to require housing assistance, the most common include:
- Inability to upgrade or repair current accommodation to provide a safe or suitable environment;
- Lack of space or privacy;
- Housing costs exceed the standard 30% cap (where no more than 30% of your before-tax income should go to housing costs).
To ensure you can enjoy all the benefits of ageing, without worrying about the financial burden of living in inadequate, unaffordable or not suitable housing, we created a provincial guide to senior housing. We discuss the types of financial help available to seniors, common senior home care services and highlight resources for seniors in each province.
Types of financial help available to seniors
There are various benefits that seniors in Canada can qualify for if they are in need of financial assistance. Consider finding relief in one or more of these categories.
Canada has a variety of assistance programs for those who are over a certain age. For instance, the Old Age Security (OAS) pension provides a monthly payment to low-income individuals over 65. The amount you receive will depend on how long you’ve lived in Canada but can be as much as $614.14 per month.
In addition, if you qualify for the Old Age Security pension, you might also be eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) that will provide additional assistance. Both of these assistance programs are income-tested.
Veterans Affairs Canada has many financial programs and services for veterans. For instance, income support provides monthly payments to support your earnings and can be used to pay housing costs. To qualify for these income support programs, you must be a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
There are a variety of tax deductions and credits that Canadians can benefit from. For example, one that might be relevant for seniors is the federal disability tax credit. While this tax credit isn’t age-dependent, many older adults qualify. It gives relief to those who are blind, restricted in basic activities of daily living (speaking, hearing, walking, eliminating, feeding, dressing, mental functioning) or need life-sustaining therapy.
Another tax credit that is age-specific is the renovation home accessibility tax credit. Homeowners over the age of 65 and who qualify for the federal disability tax credit, can qualify for a non-refundable renovation tax credit. If eligible, you can deduct up to $10,000 on renovation or remodelling costs that are undertaken to help keep you in your home.
Seniors might also qualify for renter tax credits and property tax help, but the specifics will vary based on your province. For instance, in British Columbia, seniors over the age of 55 can qualify to defer payments on property taxes. The money is repaid when the senior chooses or when the estate is settled. Most provinces have similar programs but qualifications will vary based on location.
In addition to these assistance programs and tax credits, each province has specific programs to help with affordable housing. Scroll down to your province to find what housing help is available in your area.
Energy and utilities
Utilities, such as gas and electricity,can greatly contribute to the cost of homeownership. To combat this cost, your province likely has a low-income assistance program.
As you age, health care becomes more important. Your province may have programs to help transport you to your health appointment, cover the costs of approved drug prescriptions and vaccines, aid with home modifications due to a disability and provide free, confidential health advice by phone.
Ageing can lead to a loss of mobility. If this is the case, everyday tasks like grocery shopping or cooking can become difficult. Foodbank services and emergency food hampers may help reduce these costs. In addition, programs like Meals on Wheels can help deliver food to your home.
Many seniors need help living independently or may be considering a long-term care facility. If this is the case, your province can provide resources to help you choose the best option for you.
For example, in Ontario the Local Health Integration Network arranges all government-funded services for people living at home. Citizens are assigned a case manager, who will determine if you qualify for this home care and what care you need. If you don’t qualify, there are also privately funded home care service companies that can assist you.
Each province has different guidelines to qualify for government-funded home care. Even if you don’t qualify for a government program, there will be other organizations that provide home care to allow seniors to stay in their own homes with support. Continue reading to learn about the types of support that may be available.
Common senior home care services to consider
As mentioned above, you or someone you love may need assistance living independently. If this is the case, consult with your doctor and family to determine housing alternatives and what steps you should take. Below are some options you might consider.
Health care professionals
A health care professional can visit your home to provide care. This may include but is not limited to:
- Nursing care — taking medications, changing bandages, helping with injury recovery
- Physiotherapy — assisting with back pain, mobility problems, blood circulation, pain relief
- Occupational therapy — making day-to-day activities easier, helping with movement around the home
- Speech-language therapy — stroke recovery, helping with speech difficulties
- Social work — helping manage stress or family conflict
- Healthy eating — creating a healthy diet
- Providing home health care supplies — helping with dressings, walking aids, braces
In this case, the individual can live independently in their home but occasionally requires a visit from a health care professional.
A personal care professional is necessary for those who need help with daily care such as bathing, oral care, hair care, skincare, dressing or undressing, eating, using the bathroom, getting in or out of beds or vehicles, or getting to appointments. A care professional can come to your home for hands-on assistance throughout the day.
While many need daily care, it’s expensive to get this assistance all day, every day. If that much care is needed, living at home likely isn’t the best option. A senior or family member decides how often personal care is needed, which can be anywhere between two to three times a week to two to three times a day.
It’s important that seniors maintain a safe and comfortable environment. Suppose they are unable to do so on their own. In that case, you can employ a homemaking service to assist you with home activities such as laundry, housecleaning, shopping, banking, paying bills, planning meals or caring for children.
If you are unable to live independently, you may consider moving to an assisted living facility where professionals are available to help at all times. Assisted living residences can vary from single units in apartments to private homes. They provide housing, personal care services, meals, activities, housekeeping, laundry and an emergency response team.
End-of-life care at home
If you or a loved one wants to live their last days at home, there are end-of-life care options. These can include nursing or personal care, medical supplies, tests, hospital equipment, pain management and home hospice services.
Senior housing resources in each province
When it comes to senior assistance, what does your province have to offer? Make sure you are using all the resources available to seniors in your community. We did the digging for you and found senior housing resources to help you lead a happy home life.
British Columbia has many senior aid options for housing. Finding the proper home care in British Columbia should be easier with these resources.
- Defer Your Property Taxes: A low-interest loan program that helps homeowners pay their annual property taxes on their residence. Those 55 or older, surviving a spouse or having a disability, may qualify.
- Home Owner Grant: Provides assistance paying property taxes to those who are 65 or older. The total grant amount is $845 in the Capital Regional District, Metro Vancouver Regional District and the Fraser Valley. For all other province areas, the total grant amount is $1,045. What value your property is assessed at determines how much of the grant you receive.
- Seniors Home Renovation Tax Credit: Helps those 65 and older with the costs of certain home renovations. Qualifying renovations include those that improve access to the home or land, improve mobility and functions within the home or land, or reduce the risk of harm within the home or land. The maximum amount of credit is $1,000 per tax year.
- Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI): Assists low-income seniors and those with disabilities with financing home modifications to create an accessible and safe environment. This organization gives up to $17,500 per home to homeowners, renters and landlords. This financing is in the form of a forgivable loan.
- British Columbia Assisted Living: A resource to determine your options for assisted living and the potential costs in the B.C. area.
- Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER): A program that provides monthly cash payments to seniors (60 or older) who pay more than 30% of their before-tax income for rent.
Below are a few of the Alberta’s government programs created to assist seniors in need.
- Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program: Allows eligible senior homeowners to defer all or part of their residential property taxes. This is possible with a low-interest home equity loan through the Government of Alberta.
- Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program (SHARP): Provides low-interest home equity loans to cover home adaptations and renovations so seniors can stay in their homes longer.
- Supplementary Accommodation Benefit: Supports seniors who live in a designated supportive living or long-term care facility. This supplementary benefit is combined with the Alberta Seniors Benefit.
- Alberta Seniors Benefit: Canadian citizens who are 65 years or older and have lived in Alberta for at least three months can meet financial eligibility requirements to get financial assistance to help with their monthly living expenses.
- Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH): Gives financial and health benefits for eligible citizens of Alberta who have a permanent medical condition that prevents them from earning a living.
- Special Needs Assistance for Seniors: Low-income seniors can qualify for help affording the cost of appliances and specific health support.
- Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors: Individuals 65 years or older may be eligible to get help covering the cost of basic dental and optical services.
The province of Saskatchewan has many resources for seniors. From financial assistance for low-income individuals to senior-specific discounts, there are various housing resources available.
- Seniors Education Property Tax Deferral Program: Seniors who have a total household income below $70,000 per year may qualify for a repayable loan for the education property taxes for their principal residence.
- Life Lease Program: Seniors wanting to downsize, live among other seniors, find relief from homeownership, need a more affordable place or want a simpler lifestyle may be eligible to live in affordable apartment-style homes.
- Personal Care Home Benefit (PCHB): Provides financial assistance to help with the cost of living in a Saskatchewan licensed personal care home.
- The Social Housing Program: Helps families and seniors with low incomes and people with disabilities find safe and adequate housing. If you qualify, this program will set your rent at 30% of the household’s program.
- Seniors Income Plan (SIP): Provides the senior citizens of Saskatchewan with financial assistance to meet their basic needs. Those living at home can be eligible for up to $270 per month and those in a special care home can receive up to $50 per month.
- Special Support Program: Helps residents of Saskatchewan with high drug costs in relation to their income. Those eligible can receive a deductible or copayment on their prescription drugs for the year.
- Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID): Those with significant and enduring disabilities can qualify for living income, disability income or exceptional need income.
- Discounted Bus Pass Program: Provides assistance to those who need access to quality public transportation but have a low income.
The province of Manitoba has province-specific resources for residents. Here are a few that are listed on their government website.
- 55 PLUS Program: Provides an income supplement to lower-income citizens who are 55 years or older. Your eligibility will be dependent on the income in your previous year’s tax return.
- Manitoba Pharmacare Plan: Citizens of Manitoba, whose income has been seriously affected by high prescription drug costs, can get their prescription drug costs partially or fully covered.
- Palliative Care Drug Access Program: Covers the cost of eligible drugs to reduce the financial burden for those in the final stages of life.
- Rent Assist: Low-income private renters and those who receive Employment Income Assistance (EIA) can receive this additional rental assistance.
- Seniors Eyeglass Program: Residents 65 years of age or older who don’t have their costs paid through other provincial or federal programs may be eligible for financial assistance to purchase eyeglasses.
- Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant: Provides up to $500 back on property taxes for low- to moderate-income seniors.
- Ontario Renovates: Provides funding for urgent repairs, renovation and accessibility modification for low- to moderate-income homeowners. You can receive up to $15,000 per unit in funding.
- Home and Vehicle Modification Program (HVMP): Those who live in Ontario, qualify financially and have a substantial impairment caused by bodily injury, a congenital disability or illness can receive financial assistance for home and vehicle modifications.
- Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS): Low-income seniors can qualify to receive monthly payments that range between $2.50 and $83.
- Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP): Provides a grant to help low-income households behind on their bills.
- Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP): Lowers the electricity bills for lower-income households in Ontario.
- Ontario Drug Benefit Program: Citizens turning 65 years old will automatically join the program. The program covers more than 4,400 prescription drug products.
- Special Drugs Program (SDP): Citizens can get full coverage for cancer and other special drug treatments not covered by other drug programs.
- Connex Ontario: Provides free and confidential health services information for those experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, mental illness or gambling.
- Assistive Device Program: Helps those with long-term physical disabilities pay for equipment and supplies. Equipment and supplies may include mobility aids, hearing aids, communication aids, visual aids, respiratory equipment, home oxygen therapy, artificial eyes and facial prosthetics, and enteral feeding pumps.
If you’re a senior citizen of Quebec, consider these resources for those who are low-income or need additional assistance with their housing.
- Tax Credit for Home-Support Services for Seniors: Those 70 years or older can qualify for a refundable tax credit for expenses related to home support services.
- Tax Credit for Seniors’ Activities: A refundable tax credit for seniors who paid registration fees for physical, artistic, cultural or recreational activities.
- Senior Assistance Tax Credit: Residents of Quebec who are 70 years or older may be entitled to a refundable senior assistance tax credit.
- Independent Living Tax Credit: Residents of Quebec who are 70 or older can qualify for this refundable tax credit. The credit covers incurred expenses on a home modification to that helps them live independently.
- Domestic Help Services: Provides a reduction for domestic help services such as housekeeping work, laundering, meal preparation and help shopping.
- Hearing Devices Program: Those who qualify can have the costs related to hearing aids and assisted listening devices covered.
- Visual Devices Program: Those who qualify can access visual devices and receive assistance to take care of a guide dog.
- Shelter Allowance Program: Financially assists low-income households that use a large portion of their budget to housing. Those 50 years or older can qualify.
The Atlantic province of New Brunswick has a variety of housing resources for senior citizens.
- Property Tax Deferral Program for Seniors: Provides property tax relief for seniors in New Brunswick.
- Low-Income Seniors’ Benefit: Assists low-income seniors with additional financial support. Those who have received benefits from Guaranteed Income Supplement, Allowance for Survivor Program or Allowance Program can qualify.
- Extra-Mural Program (EMP): Provides health care services to New Brunswick citizens in their homes. You must be a resident with a valid NB Medicare card to be eligible.
- Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP): Families with an income of $30,000 or less may qualify. The program offers a one-time payment of $100 to help offset high energy costs.
- Drug Plans for Seniors: Certain prescription drug coverage is available to seniors in New Brunswick.
- Mobility and Adaptive Equipment Loan Program: Those eligible can be loaned specific mobility and adaptive equipment. Equipment should support the performance of their daily activities and allow them to live and be cared for safely.
- Hearing Aid Program: Assists with the coverage for the purchase and maintenance of hearing aids that other insurance plans may not cover.
- Respiratory Program: Those eligible can get coverage of respiratory equipment and supplies that aren’t covered by other insurance plans.
- Vision Program: Assists with coverage of specific vision benefits that aren’t covered by other insurance plans.
Nova Scotia citizens can benefit from these senior resources and home care options. Read through to find which ones you can qualify for.
- Canada-Nova Scotia Targeted Housing Benefit (CNSTHB): Assists eligible low-income households to reduce housing need.
- Income Assistance (IA): A program for citizens of Nova Scotia that are in financial need. This includes financial assistance for basic needs such as food, rent, utilities and clothing.
- Home Care: Provides Nova Scotians with home care services. This includes personal care, essential housekeeping, dressing changes, catheter care and palliative care.
- Age-Friendly Communities Grant: Gives funding for projects that lead to more age-friendly communities that will improve the health and well-being of older adults.
- Self-Managed Care Program: Those with physical disabilities can hire their own care providers. This financial assistance goes toward the hiring, training, managing, supervising and payment of the care provider.
- Supportive Care Program: Eligible citizens with cognitive impairments can get the support of up to $1,000 per month for home support services such as personal care, meal preparation and household chores.
- Alternative Family Support Program: Supports those with disabilities who choose to live in an approved family home.
- Seniors Community Wheelchair Loan Program: Provide new and recycled wheelchairs to eligible residents.
- Personal Alert Service: A reimbursement for up to $480 per year for a personal alert assistance service is provided for eligible low-income seniors over 65.
Prince Edward Island
- Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program: Allows seniors to defer payment of property taxes on their principal residence to lower the cost of living.
- Seniors Safe @ Home Program: Provides between $1,000 and $5,000 to seniors to assist with the cost of making changes to their homes to improve accessibility to continue living there.
- Home Care Program: Provides services to those who need support to continue living safely at home, have been released from the hospital and are recovering or have an ongoing health issue that requires additional care.
- Seniors Home Repair Program: Eligible seniors can get help with the cost of their home repairs. They can receive up to $2,000 for repairs such as roof, window, door or furnace repairs.
- Social Assistance Program: Low-income individuals who qualify will get assistance paying for food, shelter, medications, basic dental, glasses and funeral costs.
- AccessAbility Supports: Offers financial support and assistance to those living with disabilities, including physical, intellectual, neurological, sensory and mental disabilities.
- Palliative Care Program: Helps those with a progressive life-threatening illness and their families. The program provides medical, nursing and other professional care.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the eastern-most province of Canada. The government offers a variety of resources, benefits and financial assistance for senior housing.
- Low-Income Tax Reduction (LITR): A personal income tax reduction for low-income individuals and families.
- NL Income Supplement and Seniors’ Benefit: Refundable tax credit that may be paid to low-income individuals and seniors. Eligibility will be based on family income the previous year.
- Provincial Home Support Program: Public funds can subsidize support required to maintain an individual’s independence. A functional and financial assessment by professional staff from the regional health authority is required.
- Board and Lodging Supplement: Adults with psychiatric, physical or intellectual disabilities who reside with relatives or non-relatives may qualify for funding.
- Income Support Benefits: Low-income individuals can apply to get assistance with food, clothing, personal care, household maintenance, utilities, rent or mortgage.
- Special Assistance Program: Provides basic medical supplies and equipment to those who qualify. This can include dressings, catheters, oxygen equipment, orthotics, wheelchairs and walkers.
- Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP): Provides financial assistance to those who qualify for prescription costs that can’t be covered by other insurance.
- Vision Care: Assists by funding $55 towards the cost of a routine eye exam. It also offers a contribution to the cost of eyeglasses every 36 months for adults.
A step towards happy housing for seniors
Whether their estate planning or looking at other housing options, seniors can qualify for many benefits they might not be aware of. Be sure to read through these resources that your province provides to ensure you’re getting all the help you need.
Accessibility or financial constraints shouldn’t be a hurdle that prevents you from enjoying the benefits of ageing.
For more guides that will help you secure the right type of home for your situation, check out the Zolo Homebase Blog.