It’s safe to say that a vast majority of women do not plan to become single mothers. More often than not, becoming a single mom is something that happens due to broken relationships. As such, women with children do not typically plan their finances as if one day they would become single mothers. Being unprepared when it does happen, newly single moms are not aware of the financial help available to them when they are raising their children alone.
When I became a single mother, I had no clue about any tax benefits or government grants. It took me a while to research this information and apply for some of these programs. They helped me when help was most needed, and I encourage you to use these resources since they are created to support single-parent families.
This post provides a list of important grants available to single mothers in Canada. You will find this information about grants especially valuable if you became a single mother recently.
Grants available to single mothers in Canada can be divided into two categories: federal and provincial. In order to qualify for these grants and benefits, you need to be “either a separated or divorced parent of a child (or children) who lives with you and for whom are you are primarily responsible (care, living, and education).” Divorced mothers who have shared legal custody are likely to receive only one-half of any available benefit.
Applying for most of these grants, available to you as a single mother on a federal level, can be done during the annual taxation period. However, if you become a single mother at any point throughout the year you should apply for available grants right away.
Federal Grants & Benefits
New for 2023: Canada Dental Benefit
If you earn less than $90,000 per year and your children under 12 do not have private dental insurance, you can apply to receive between $130 to $650 to cover the dental costs for your child. Additional coverage is possible if your costs are higher than $650. Any amount you receive is tax-free.
To check how much you can obtain under this benefit go to this page.
One-Time Top-Up Payment For Rental Housing
Until March 31, 2023, you can apply to receive this non-taxable benefit of $500 to help cover your rental housing costs. Most people covered under this benefit are those who make less than $35,000.
View more information about this benefit.
Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
As the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) describes it, the Canada child benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age.
The maximum annual Canada Child Benefit increases to keep pace with the cost of living, albeit not proportionally to the increasing costs. For the 2022 taxation year, the following rates apply:
- up to $6,997 per child under age 6 and
- up to $5,903 per child aged 6 through 17
Learn more about the CCB benefit on this page.
Reduction of Income Tax At Source
I wrote about this little-known benefit in my post Increase Your Income With T1213 Tax Form. I highly suggest you read it in detail, but in summary, this form makes it possible for you, as a taxpayer, to reduce monthly income tax if you have considerable ongoing expenses (such as childcare or ongoing medical expenses).
These tax savings can be significant depending both on your income and ongoing essential expenses. You can use the tax saved throughout the year to invest money, pay for education, or anything else you might need vs getting a loan with an interest.
Canadian Pension Plan Splitting
You can apply to split the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) savings during your separation or divorce. This includes dividing all CPP savings that were accumulated during the time you lived together with your ex-spouse. You are eligible for equal division even if you have not made any contributions while living together. Importantly, you need to apply within 36 months after the end of your marriage (including the separation period).
To view full details and apply, visit this page.
To receive payments under the Employment Insurance (EI), you need to be an individual who lost your job through no fault of your own (for example, due to a shortage of work, seasonal or mass lay-offs.) You must also be actively looking for employment and able to work. Click here to see full eligibility requirements. Always apply for EI benefits as soon as you stop working. There is a one-week waiting period so you don’t want to waste any time.
As a single mother, you could also be eligible to receive an additional Family Supplement to your EI. This supplement may increase your benefit rate up to 80%. To qualify, your net income should not exceed $25,921 per year.
Disability Tax Credit (DTC)
The disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps people with disabilities reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. There are numerous mental and physical disabilities that can qualify you to receive this credit. You might be surprised to discover that you are actually eligible to claim this amount.
Go to this page to see the list of qualifying factors.
Canada Education Savings Grant
If you want the government to pitch in for your child’s future education, this grant can help. Basically, you need to register for your child’s Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and the government adds 20 cents on every dollar you contribute, up to a maximum of $500 on an annual contribution of $2,500. After high school, your child can withdraw the money to help pay for either full-time or part-time studies.
Learn how to open an RESP account here.
Sadly: Children Fitness Tax Credit and Arts Credit have been eliminated in 2017, so you can no longer claim it.
Provincial Grants & Benefits
Although most grants vary greatly province by province, there are some common benefits you can count on.
If you have been a stay-at-home mom, or make a very modest income, you can apply for Legal Aid in your province of residence. Legal Aid is a provincial program that can cover your legal fees in divorce, custody proceedings, and other legal services you might require.
Simply search online for Legal Aid in ____________ (insert your province in the search window). I suggest applying to Legal Aid immediately after you separate from your spouse. Some provinces have more generous Legal Aid available than others, but they can point you to some good free resources in any event.
There is a large variety of food assistance programs available in each province to single mothers. While getting food assistance might not be something you are comfortable with, it really helps and is a great help available to you and your children. Typically, provincial food assistance is available to single mothers via different local organizations.
Most provinces in Canada offer childcare subsidies. While the amount of financial assistance you will receive will vary depending on your province, this benefit is invaluable to all single moms. There is usually a wait to receive the childcare subsidy, so make sure to apply as soon as possible. If you are pregnant, you can still begin your inquiry about childcare subsidy early on, as you will need to go back to work eventually.
Personal Counseling and Therapy
Each province offers special programs to assist individuals with counseling and psychotherapy. To find programs available to you, search online for your provincial Health Authority website. YWCAs in various provinces (see below) often have group and individual counseling resources available to single mothers.
YWCA is an organization that provides a wealth of information, resources, and assistance to single mothers. Their mission is to be a turning point for women, and they are equipped with up-t0-date information about legal issues, shelters, child care, employment assistance, and more! Under some programs, they also can provide you with a free fitness pass to their facilities.
I highly suggest connecting with your local YWCA if you just become a single mother and/or fleeing an abusive relationship.
Housing and Rental Assistance
As a single mother, you might be eligible for a subsidized housing benefit available in most provinces. Yes, the wait might take a while but the cost of this housing is extremely affordable and will help you live in a much bigger space with your children for a fraction of the market cost.
Some provinces have pretty decent Rental Assistance programs. If your income meets the requirements, you might be able to receive financial assistance to pay for your rent. To see the list of housing benefits in various provinces, see my recent post “Housing For Single Mothers in Canada.”
I hope this list of benefits and grants for single mothers in Canada will be helpful to you. I am not ashamed to say that I used many of these programs, and they helped me to overcome an extremely difficult period in my life when I just became a single mother and was unemployed and totally unprepared. These programs were created because they recognize the difficulties single mothers face, and you will be amazed at how much help you can get while you are building your single-parent family up.[For additional grants in Ontario, check out my recent post here].