Rounding it up
Immigration is a big decision. Luckily, the Canadian government provides benefits that can ease the transition.
For example, the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is designed to offset some of the cost of raising children under 18.
Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit helps low and moderate income individuals reduce some of the taxes that they pay on goods and services.
Your province or territory will also offer distinct benefits for its residents. Apply for any of these benefits as soon as you receive your social insurance number.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many of us to reconsider where we live and what we do to fill our days. Plus, with the rise of remote work, more and more people are moving far and wide. After all, if you’re going to be able to work from wherever, why pay big city prices to live near your nonexistent office, right?
Some folks have even considered emigrating to new and different countries, starting completely fresh. And who can blame them! There’s never been a more perfect time to set out on a new path. Some countries, like Denmark, are even encouraging immigration. Canada, while not going out of its way to market itself to newcomers, has a variety of different financial benefits available to new immigrants.
What does it mean to immigrate to Canada?
In short, quite a bit. Immigrating to another country, even if you don’t plan to stay there permanently, is a huge decision that should come along with a lot of thought and careful planning. Fortunately, the Canadian Government offers a clear, step-by-step process for those who are ready to start the process. There are a whole host of different categories and ways to gain permanent residence or citizenship in Canada, each with its own set of requirements. Be sure that you know and understand what you need to apply, how much it costs, and how long it takes.
I’ve arrived in Canada — what benefits can I expect?
Congratulations! The Canadian government has a wide variety of different benefits available to new immigrants. They’re designed to help ease your transition into the Canadian financial system and ensure you are able to support yourself and your family. There are three main government benefits for which you should determine your eligibility.
Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
The Canada Child Benefit is administered by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), the main body in charge of collecting taxes and distributing benefits in the country. The goal of the benefit is to offset some of the cost of raising children. The benefit is open to all Canadian citizens, including those who just arrived in the country, if they are caring for a child under the age of 18 who lives in their residence. The benefit year runs from July to June and the exact payment is calculated based on how many children are in your care, their age, your marital status, and your adjusted family net income (AFNI) from the previous year’s tax return.
You can calculate how much you can expect from this particular benefit on Canada’s Benefits website. If you make less than $32,028 as a family, you would qualify for the full benefit amount of $569.41 a month per child for children under six or $480.41 per child for children between 6 and 17. The amount can make a huge difference for parents, especially when you’re just getting your feet back under you after immigrating to the country.
Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit
This credit takes the form of a quarterly, tax-free payment and is intended to help low and moderate income Canadians offset some of the taxes that they pay on goods and services. You can sign up for this credit by filling out this tax form — you’ll have to wade through so much paperwork, so might as well add this one to the list if possible!
The payment is based on the number of children you have, your net family income, your marital status, and some other factors. This year, you could get up to $456 if you are single, $598 if you are married or have a common-law partner, and/or $157 for each child under the age of 19.
Provincial or Territorial Benefits
Canada has 13 different territories and provinces and each offers separate and distinct benefits for its residents. Amounts vary widely but most are linked to how many children you have and your net income. These benefits are open to new immigrants as well.
There are a number of other benefits, like the Canadian Workers Benefit or disability payments, that can help you with more specific problems. Some of these benefits, however, are not open to newly arrived immigrants; be sure to review the Canadian Government’s website to determine your eligibility.
Additionally, Quebec offers its own distinct benefits and credits, administered directly through Retraite Quebec. To learn more, visit Quebec’s website on immigration and benefits.
When can I apply for these?
As soon as possible. Within a few weeks of immigrating to Canada, you’ll receive a social insurance number, a nine-digit code that’s required for you to work and live in the country. You can apply for benefits as soon as you receive it.
Your first tax year in Canada (the year in which you immigrate) has a special designation. This period allows you to take advantage of the benefits above, as well as realize some additional benefits that help defray the cost of immigration. Future benefit years will be based on your second tax return.
What about financial benefits I might realize on my own?
Besides the government benefits, you may realize a few other benefits of moving and residing in Canada. If you’re coming from a nation that has a stronger currency, you’ll be bringing in extra capital, allowing your money to go further in the country. For example, as of this writing, $1 CAD is worth $1.48 Euros. If you’re immigrating from a European Union country, you’ll need to convert your money to Canadian dollars — a conversion that will yield you more money.
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionized the way we work and where we want to live for that work, it has also made moving around extremely difficult. Immigration to Canada is no different. The government has developed a series of guidelines and updates on how the pandemic is affecting immigration and passport services. Read up on these policies to ensure your move goes as smoothly as possible.
Immigration is a big decision with plenty of hoops to jump through and forms to fill, but the benefits offered to new Canadian residents can make that choice just a bit easier. Be sure to research immigration carefully and take a full accounting of your financial situation.
Dan is a runner and writer living in the Washington, D.C. area, where he currently works for a financial services trade association as the Communications Director.