211 Ontario helps seniors access financial assistance and home support services.
By: Destiny Bedwell, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Ontario 211 Services
Feeling safe and secure financially will allow you or your loved one to age peacefully and enjoy retirement without significant financial worries or burdens. Over 55,000 people called the 211 helpline in Ontario last year to investigate financial and income assistance. Many calls to Ontario 211 are from seniors and caregivers wanting to discover what practical help like home support is available, how to access it, and if there is financial help available for their situation. Calling 2-1-1 is one of the best ways to learn about the home support programs and financial assistance that can help you or your loved one stay at home safely and enjoy a high quality of life.
There are a variety of resources available to assist you or your loved one in overcoming financial worries and burdens that may limit spending abilities as you/they age. Here are some options that can help:
- The Old Age Security (OAS) program, which can provide eligible Canadians over 65 with a modest pension.
- The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) gives extra income to low-income seniors receiving OAS. Partners of GIS recipients can also apply.
- The Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) is a top-up for low-income Ontario residents age 65 or older who receive the GIS.
- If you or your loved one have worked outside the home you/they should receive the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement pension. CPP also provides survivors benefits to partners of deceased contributors.
- Veterans of war are also eligible for a War Veterans Allowance.
In order to receive most government assistance, it’s important that you or your loved one have filed your/their taxes, as you/they may be eligible for tax refunds. Low-income adults of any age can get help filing taxes through free community volunteer income tax clinics. Here are some tax credits you or your loved one might qualify for:
- The Ontario Trillium Benefit (OTB)
- The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit
- The Provincial Land Tax Deferral Program for Low Income or Those With Disability
- The Federal Excise Gasoline Refund Program
Community legal clinics, which offer services to all low-income seniors, can help if you or your loved one are having difficulty applying for a tax refund or receiving your/their pension or you/they need help preparing a will or a power of attorney form. To find Community Legal Clinics, call 2-1-1.
- Most of the costs for approved drug prescriptions are covered under the Ontario Drug Benefits (ODB) program if you or your loved one are 65 or older.
- A wide array of health care benefits are also provided to war vets by the War Veterans Allowance.
- If you or your loved one have a long-term physical disability you/they can apply to the Assistive Devices Program (ADP) for financial support for equipment or supplies ranging from home oxygen to wheelchairs to hearing aids.
- There are no specific provincial dental program for seniors, although some community health clinics offer free care and some dental hygiene schools as well as offer reduced prices in their student clinics. Call 2-1-1 to find out what is available in your area.
For health care or personal support in your home, the first step is to contact a Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). Call 2-1-1 to find your local CCAC. CCAC staff will coordinate in-home services such as nursing, personal support, physiotherapy, or medical supplies and equipment. Both 2-1-1 and CCACs can also refer you to additional support services such as:
- Caregiver relief
- Friendly visiting
- Home maintenance and repair services
- Snow removal services for seniors
The Ontario Energy Board'sLow Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) provides low-income customers up to $500 in emergency financial assistance to pay their gas or electricity bills ($600 if their home is heated electrically). Low-income Enbridge customers can apply for the Home Winterproofing Program.
Call 2-1-1 to find agencies which provide grocery shopping rides, to find Meals on Wheels or food banks if you or your loved one are mobile. Some municipalities, such as Toronto, operate Good Food Box programs, which deliver boxes of affordable, fresh produce to pick up locations on a regular basis. Call 2-1-1 to find out what food or meal programs are available near you.
Help With Pet Costs
Dogs or cats are essential to the well-being of many seniors, but paying for their expenses can be worrisome if money is tight, especially if they fall ill. If you don't have enough money to pay vet bills, you might be eligible for help from the Farley Foundation.
If you or your loved one is in need of more information on financial assistance for seniors, call 2-1-1 Ontario at any time to speak with us about an individualized plan to help minimize your financial concerns and allow you to age without boundaries!
Destiny Bedwell is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at Ontario 211 Services. Working at the 211 helpline is a dream job for her because she loves highlighting the brilliant work of the non profit, community, government and health services across Ontario through social media and marketing initiatives.