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What’s considered social assistance when sponsoring my parents and grandparents?

Under Canada’s immigration law, if you get social assistance other than for a disability, you aren’t eligible to sponsor a family member.

Social assistance income doesn’t count toward your total income when we assess if you meet the income requirement.

Also, if you sponsor someone and they get social assistance during the time you agreed to be financially responsible for them, you have to pay it back.

What is considered social assistance

Some benefits (money, goods or services) from provinces or territories are considered to be social assistance for the purpose of sponsoring. This includes assistance from the government to cover basic needs like:

  • food
  • shelter
  • clothing
  • fuel
  • utilities
  • household supplies
  • health care not covered by public health care (extra benefits paid by the government to low-income people or others in need)

What isn’t considered social assistance

Social assistance doesn’t include:

  • Employment Insurance
  • provincial student loans
  • immigration loans
  • subsidized housing
  • tax credits
  • child care subsidies
  • public health care (services your province or territory gives to all people who live there)
  • other benefits widely available to residents, including people who are working

Provinces and territories had temporary programs to help people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. We don’t consider these benefits to be social assistance if they aren’t considered as such by the province or territory.

Also not considered social assistance:

  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (now closed)
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (now closed)
  • Canada Recovery Benefit (now closed)
  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (now closed)
  • Canada Emergency Student Benefit (now closed)

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