Provincial (AB) and Federal Benefits for Seniors

Our provincial government has many initiatives to help seniors cope with the challenges we may face as we move from full-time work into the next phase of our lives. This information can be found on the Alberta government’s website (Financial assistance for seniors |

The Community Housing program provides subsidized rental housing to seniors who cannot afford private sector accommodations. To be considered for this program, you must meet certain income guidelines which are outlined on the Alberta government’s website ( and are adjusted for each community. For example, assistance for a one-bedroom apartment requires an annual income below $34,000 in Okotoks, but in Canmore the income threshold is $70,000! Additional factors that will be considered are your level of assets, number of dependants, and your current housing conditions. However, even if you meet all the conditions, there is no guarantee you will receive assistance.

We are all familiar with our Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). Seniors (individuals over the age of sixty-five years old) have a few more benefits included in AHCIP:

  • Prescription medication with a co-payment to a maximum of $25 (your ARTA benefits cover the co-payment).
  • Diabetes supplies up to a maximum or $2400 per benefit year (July 1 to June 30).
  • Full cost of ambulance services.
  • Clinical psychological services up to $60 per visit, maximum of $300 per year.
  • Chiropractic services up to $25 per visit to a maximum of $200 per year.

Single seniors with an income below $31,000, or senior couples with a combined income below $62,000, qualify for dental and vision assistance. Of course, there are forms to fill out and approvals to be sought from the Seniors Financial Assistance program.

The Seniors Property Tax Deferral program allows seniors to defer paying property taxes for up to ten years. This is done through a low-interest loan from the Government of Alberta. You will pay interest on the loan, and must own a residential property (and live there) to qualify. The province will put a lien on your property to ensure repayment when you sell the property. You must also have at least twenty-five percent equity in your home.

If your require help with modifications to improve accessibility and mobility in your home, you can also request a home equity loan from the Alberta government. This could involve widening doorways, purchasing and installing a stair lift, or a walk-in tub. To qualify, you must have an annual income below $75,000. Similar requirements such as the twenty-five percent home equity value and application of a lien by the province apply.

On the federal side, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) are available for seniors. CPP and OAS are public pensions and can be applied for through your My Service Canada Account (MSCA). The MSCA can show what your expected public pensions will be, and the dates when payments will be deposited to your bank account, if you have already accessed them.

GIS is an income-based monthly payment for Canadians over the age of sixty-five. There are various conditions that must be met to receive the GIS: you must live in Canada, be receiving OAS and, for single, divorced, or widowed individuals, have an annual income below $21,456 (or $28,320 if both you and your spouse receive OAS). Several other conditions may apply based on various OAS situations, immigrant status, and surviving spouse situations. Check the government's website ( for specific details.

Many other benefits are delivered via the tax system. The following list includes some of the most common benefits. A certified accountant should be aware of these benefits, and most tax preparation software programs will also provide the calculations. However, always be sure to indicate your personal situation.

  • Pension credit—up to $2000.
  • Pension splitting—a high income spouse can allocate up to fifty percent of their pension to their partner to help reduce overall family taxable income.
  • Canada Caregiver Credit—if you support a partner with a physical or mental impairment. The amount varies (up to $2350 as well as an additional $7525) based on fulfilling various criteria.
  • Disability Tax Credit—$8870 if a medical practitioner certifies your disability.

Canada’s new Dental Benefit is the latest initiative for low to middle income Canadians (those with a family income of under $90,000.) Stay tuned for the latest developments as this new plan is just beginning and applications are being accepted over an extended period.

Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of all the possible benefits available for seniors from our various levels of government. Governments and their numerous policies are constantly growing and adapting to meet our changing needs. Discussions with professional, accredited financial advisors should always be a part of your retirement deliberations.

Ray Hoger

Chair, Pension and Financial Wellness Committee