Get a free, no obligation personal loan quote with rates as low as 6.99%
Get Started You can apply with no effect to your credit score

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. 

Looking for additional ways to earn some extra cash? Check out how to get free money in Canada

How Much Can You Get Through The IA Program?

Basic Needs

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 DependentsRent/OwnBoard

There are a couple of additional categories of the Standard Household Rate with slightly increased payment amounts. 

Do you have kids? Check out these tax credits and deductions for parents.

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. 

Are you living with a disability? Check out if you qualify for the disability tax credit.

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. 

Are you struggling to afford a place to live? Consider co-op housing

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. 

Find out how to get a farm mortgage

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.

Are you having a hard time getting a loan due to your lack of employment? Then you should check out these unemployment loans.

Net Monthly Earnings Amount of Money You Keep (Regular Employment)
$250-$500$250 + 75% of money earned over $250
$500-$750$437.50 + 50% of money earned over $500
Over $750$562.50 + 25% of money earned over &750

Nova Scotia Income Assistance Payment Dates 2023

Here are the payment dates for the income assistance cheques

MonthCheque Delivery Date
December, 2023November 28, 29, 30 (2023)
January (2024)December 27, 28, 29 (2023)
February (2024)January 29, 30, 31 (2024)

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:

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.

Final Thoughts

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. 

Chrissy Kapralos avatar on Loans Canada
Chrissy Kapralos

Chrissy is a Toronto-based communications advisor. With an English degree from the University of Toronto and editing courses under her belt from Ryerson University, she has continued her lifelong passion for writing and editing. In addition to working for Loans Canada on a variety of financial topics, Chrissy has a few years of resume writing and editing under her belt, and takes great pleasure in helping people find work that fits with their experience and passions. When she isn't working, you can find her practicing yoga, hanging out with her dog, reading up on financial and real estate news, or planning her next trip abroad.

More From This Author

Special Offers

More From Our Experts
Loans Canada places No. 228 on The Globe and Mail’s fifth-annual ranking of Canada’s Top Growing Companies.

By Caitlin Wood
Published on September 29, 2023

Loans Canada is excited to announce it has made it onto the Globe and Mail’s Top Growing Companies list for the second year in a row.
Finder Awards Finalists: Personal Loans Customer Satisfaction Awards 2023

By Priyanka Correia

Loans Canada is happy to announce it received the finalist award in the Best Personal Loan Search Platform category.
Can You Afford A Mortgage For A Million Dollar Home In Canada?

By Corrina Murdoch

Do you need a mortgage for million dollar home? Find out how much income you'll need, and what the monthly payments will be like.
What Happens When I Can’t Make My Loan Payments?

By Caitlin Wood

Are you missing loan payments? What happens If you can't pay your loan? Finf out what happens and what you can do.
Good Debt vs Bad Debt

By Lisa Rennie

What's the difference between good debt vs bad debt? What factors determine whether debt can be considered good vs bad? Find out...
Our Review Of The Neo High-Interest Savings Account In 2024

By Trevor O'Hagan

The Neo financial savings account is the perfect way for you to build an emergency fund, save for a down payment, or build a nest egg.
Best Air Miles Credit Cards In Canada

By Lucas Elliott

Discover the best air miles credit card in Canada for 2023. Compare annual fees, bonus earn rates, sign-up bonuses, and travel perks.
Borrower Rights: High-Interest Loan Legislation In Canada

By Mark Gregorski

To better protect vulnerable borrowers, provinces have enacted legislation that sets boundaries on what alternative lenders can and can’t do.

Recognized As One Of Canada's Top Growing Companies

Loans Canada, the country's original loan comparison platform, is proud to be recognized as one of Canada's fastest growing companies by The Globe and Mail!

Read More

Why choose Loans Canada?

Apply Once &
Get Multiple Offers
Save Time
And Money
Get Your Free
Credit Score
Expert Tips
And Advice

Build Credit For Just $10/Month

With KOHO's prepaid card you can build a better credit score for just $10/month.

Koho Prepaid Credit Card