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Financial issues are common in Canada, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. Job loss, low income, inflation, medical illness, and more can all make someone financially strained. Luckily, there are some solutions to help you overcome a tough financial rut, including credit counselling, debt consolidation, and of course, income support programs. For those living in Nova Scotia, there’s the Income Assistant (IA) Program.
What Is The Nova Scotia Income Assistance (IA) Program?
Nova Scotia’s Income Assistance (IA) program offers financial support to eligible people unable to support themselves or their families with basic and/or special needs. IA support can be used for needs like rent, food, child care, transportation, eyeglasses, and more.
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How Much Can You Get Through The IA Program?
Basic Needs include fuel, utilities like heating and electricity, food, and clothing. The amount of money you can receive for basic needs depends on your living situation (whether you rent, own, or board) and the number of dependents you have. This is the Standard Household Rate. See the chart below for payment amounts for each situation:
|# of Recipients||# of Dependents||Rent/Own||Board|
There are a couple of additional categories of the Standard Household Rate with slightly increased payment amounts.
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Standard Household Rate – Enhanced
Eligible individuals each receive an Enhanced Standard Household Rate of $950 per month. To qualify, you must either be 55 or older, 16 to 18 years of age, fleeing an abusive situation, or have a disability or chronic mental, cognitive, or other condition that limits your ability to work.
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Standard Household Rate – Essentials
Eligible individuals each receive the Essentials Standard Household Rate of $380 per month. This is for individuals who don’t board, rent, or own a home and are temporarily in a homeless shelter, hospital, transition house, or rehabilitation program.
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Additional Income Support
In addition to financial support for basic needs, you may also qualify for a number of other expenses including, but not limited to special needs assistance, prescription drug coverage, and transportation.
Special Needs Assistance
In addition to assistance for basic needs, the IA Program offers special needs assistance to support you with health, safety, work and training. The Special Needs assistance component of IA helps with the following:
Prescription Drug Coverage
IA recipients can receive extra support for prescription drugs (Pharmacare). To be eligible, you must have a Nova Scotia Health Card.
If you’re in arrears on mortgage or rent payments, property tax, or utility bills, the IA special needs component can help.
Income Assistance recipients living in the Halifax Regional Municipality are eligible for an annual Halifax transit card, free of charge. Depending on your personal situation, you might be eligible for additional or alternative transportation assistance.
Is your commute to work draining you? Consider buying a car.
Harvest Connection Program
For IA recipients that have been enrolled in the program for at least 6 months, the Harvest Connection Program allows them to make $3,000 per year without having to pay any of their IA back. This only applies if the work you’re doing involves season harvesting of crops like berries, vegetables, apples, and Christmas trees.
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How Working Can Affect Your Income Assistance (IA) Payment
If you are working while receiving payments from the IA Program, you might not be able to keep the full amount of the payments. This depends, however, on how much money you’re making at work each month, and on what type of employment you have. Regular employment indicates the recipient does not have any disabilities that prevent them from working. Supported employment indicates the recipient has mental, physical or cognitive abilities that prevent them from working without ongoing support.
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|Net Monthly Earnings||Amount of Money You Keep (Regular Employment)||Amount of Money You Keep (Supported Employment)|
|$250-$500||$250 + 75% of money earned over $250||$350 + 75% of money earned over $350|
|$500-$750||$437.50 + 50% of money earned over $500||$462.50 + 50% of money earned over 500|
|Over $750||$562.50 + 25% of money earned over &750||$587.50 + 25% of money earned over $750|
Nova Scotia Income Assistance Payment Dates
Here are the payment dates for IA cheques for 2021.
|Month||Cheque Delivery Date|
|March||February 24, 25, 26|
|April||March 29, 30, 31|
|May||April 28, 29, 30|
|June||May 27, 28, 31|
|July||June 28, 29, 30|
|August||July 28, 29, 30|
|September||August 27, 30, 31|
|October||September 28, 29, 30|
|November||October 27, 28, 29|
|December||November 26, 29, 30|
|January (2022)||December 29, 30, 31|
|February (2022)||January 27, 28, 31|
Eligibility Requirements For The Nova Scotia Income Assistance (IA) Program
To apply for Nova Scotia’s Income Assistance (IA) Program, you must be:
- A resident of Nova Scotia
- At least 19 years of age (some exceptions for those aged 16-18)
- In need of financial support for your basic needs
- Currently unsuccessful in finding work or other sources of income
Indigenous peoples can also apply if they live off of the reserve. On-reserve Indigenous people should contact their Band if they require financial assistance.
People with disabilities might also be eligible without meeting all general requirements, as long as they need financial support to pay for basic needs.
For a more detailed look at the eligibility requirements for the Nova Scotia Income Assistance Program, click here.
How To Apply For The Nova Scotia Income Assistance (IA) Program
To apply, you must speak with a caseworker by calling the Department of Community Services Intake Team at 1-877-424-1177 or your local office.
Before speaking to your caseworker over the phone, make sure you have the following documents handy:
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Bank statements
- Any other relevant information to help explain your scenario
After you chat over the phone, your caseworker will set up a meeting with you. Make sure you bring the following documents to your meeting:
- Driver’s license or Photo ID
- Bank statements
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Income tax assessment forms
- Lease Agreement
- Bills for housing costs, like utilities
Your caseworker will usually let you know within 7 days if you’ve been successful or unsuccessful in your IA application.
Find out if you should file your income tax return if you have no income.
Life is expensive, and having a hard financial situation isn’t hopeless. Programs like Nova Scotia’s support program can help you find some financial relief until you get back on your feet.
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