Affording retirement living: 5 federal financial support programs for Canadian seniors

If you think a move to a retirement residence is a living option that may benefit you, but have doubts that you can afford the supportive lifestyle, you may be surprised to learn that there are some government programs that can help make your monthly rent more manageable.

Here are five federal financial support programs that may help to supplement your monthly rent payments:

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Retirement Pension

The Canada Pension Plan is one of two social insurance programs that form the country’s public retirement income system—the other program being Old Age Security. CPP is available to adults 65+ upon enrollment and is based on how long and how much you have contributed to the program during your time of employment. As of March 2013, the average monthly amount pensioners received was $596.66, with the maximum amount being $1,012.50.

Old Age Security (OAS) Pension

Available to Canadians 65 years or older who have lived in the country at least 10 years or more after the age of 18, and with an income of less than $114,815 per year, Old Age Security pension is a monthly social security payment. Unlike the CPP, you do not pay into OAS directly; rather, it is funded from general revenues from the government, though the payment is taxable. As of April 2015, the average amount received is $563.74 per month. Also noteworthy is that low-income adults may be eligible to receive OAS by age 60.

Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

For those individuals currently receiving OAS, they may also be eligible to receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which provides extra money to low-income individuals on a monthly basis. GIS is paid out each month, based on one’s annual income or combined income with a spouse, and is reviewed annually.

Allowance and Allowance for the Survivor

If your spouse or common-law partner is between 60 and 64, and is currently receiving GIS, you may be eligible for the Allowance. Allowance payments stop the month after your 65th birthday, when you become eligible to receive Old Age Security and possibly the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Furthermore, Allowance for the Survivor is a benefit available to individuals who meet all the above criteria, but also have a spouse or partner who has died, and have not entered into a new marriage or common-law relationship.

Federal Attendant Care Tax Certificate

Lastly, the Federal Attendant Care Tax Certificate allows older adults to claim medical expense costs for “attendant care,” both for themselves or a spouse, which includes the share of the salaries and wages paid to all employees in an establishment (other than full-time care in retirement and care homes) carrying out the following duties:

  • Food preparation
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Health care
  • Activities (social programming)
  • Salon services (hairdressing, manicures, pedicures) if included in monthly fee
  • Transportation (driver)
  • Security for a secured unit

For more information on the Attendant Care Tax Certificate, including eligibility and what expenses can and cannot be claimed, visit Revenue Canada’s website.

There are also many Government of Canada financial support options available to veterans, including the Retirement Income Security Benefit, Supplementary Retirement Benefit, War Veterans Allowance, and many more, all explained on Veterans Affairs Canada’s website.

In addition to these federal programs, many Canadian provinces offer their own provincial financial support for seniors—from renovation tax credits to tax relief programs—so be sure to research what options are available to you when crunching the numbers to determine if retirement living is an affordable option for your unique needs and lifestyle.

Need more help calculating your expenses? Use Chartwell’s “Adding up the Benefits” Affordability Tool to compare your current living expenses with the suite type you’re interested in to determine if retirement living is an affordable solution for you.