The Government of Ontario has programs to help seniors, or individuals aged 65 or older, ease their financial burden in retirement.
Benefits for seniors 65 and older in Canada include the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB), Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS).
Eligible Ontarians can also access federal retiree benefits like the OAS, GIS, and CPP.
- The Ontario government has several programs that provide extra money for seniors in Ontario.
- These programs include the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB), Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP) and the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS).
- Other benefits for seniors 65 and older in Canada are the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), CPP Survivor’s Pension, Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
What Benefits Can Seniors in Ontario Get?
Ontario has several programs for seniors focused on helping them through financial assistance, benefits and other support types to improve their quality of life.
Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB)
The Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program is the public drug funding system of the province and is for Ontario residents only. One of Canada’s most generous drug benefit programs, the ODB covers most of the cost of approved drug prescriptions for individuals aged 65 years and above.
The Ontario drug benefit for seniors covers roughly 5,000 prescription drug products, including allergy shots, anti-diabetic and nutrition products, and over-the-counter medications.
The program covers prescriptions filled in an Ontario pharmacy. Your Ontario health card must be valid and not expired. Present your card to the pharmacy to confirm your eligibility for the ODB.
You will qualify for the Ontario drug benefits for seniors when you turn 65 years old. In some cases, you can be eligible for this benefit even before you reach 65 if you are:
- Living in a long-term care home, home for special care and Community Home for Opportunity
- 24 years of age or younger and not covered by a private insurance plan
- Receiving professional home and community care services
- Receiving benefits from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program
- Enrolled in the Trillium Drug Program
Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP)
The Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP) is a government-funded dental care program providing free, routine dental services for low-income seniors aged 65 or older.
You need to be eligible to apply for the program. To qualify, you must:
- Be 65 years of age or older
- Be a resident of Ontario
- Meet the income requirements
- For a single senior, an annual net income of $22,200 or less
- For a couple, a combined annual net income of $37,100 or less
- Have no other form of dental benefits
You can apply for Ontario seniors dental benefits online or by mail. If your application is approved, you will receive a welcome package and dental card in the mail with a July 31 expiry date. Present your card to the dental provider at every visit to receive the services under the program.
Your yearly coverage will need renewal every year. You will get a notification by mail if you will still be eligible for the Ontario seniors dental benefits.
Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS)
The Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) provides a guaranteed minimum income for senior citizens in Ontario through monthly payments to eligible pensioners.
You are qualified to receive the GAINS benefit if you meet the following:
- You are 65 years old and a recipient of the full or partial federal Old Age Security (OAS) and the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS);
- You have been a permanent resident of Ontario for the past 12 months or you previously lived in this province for twenty years after the age of 18; and
- Your total income from all sources is below the level guaranteed by Ontario.
The monthly GAINS payments are in addition to the Old Age Security (OAS) pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits.
Combined, low-income seniors are guaranteed an income level that is a combination of the maximum GAINS, OAS and GIS.
The monthly guaranteed income levels for July 1, 2023 to September 30, 2023 (for seniors between 65 and 74 years old) are:
- $1,825.05 monthly ($21,900.60 annually) for single pensioners
- $1,409.69 monthly ($16,916.28 annually) per person for qualified couples
The guaranteed income levels for July 1, 2023 to September 30, 2023 (for seniors 75 years and older) are:
- $1,894.91 monthly ($22,738.92 annually) for single pensioners
- $1,479.55 monthly ($17,754.60 annually) per person for qualified couples
If you currently receive the OAS and GIS benefits, applying for GAINS is unnecessary. To receive your GAINS payments, you must:
- File your return every year by April 30, even if you have no income to report; or
- Complete a GIS application and send it to your nearest Service Canada office.
Other Benefits for Seniors 55 and Older in Canada
Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement pension is a monthly, taxable payment that replaces a portion of your income when you enter retirement. If you are eligible, you will receive the benefit your entire life.
To be eligible to receive CPP, you must be at least 60 years old and have contributed at least once to the CPP. The maximum monthly amount you can receive if you start your pension at age 65 is $1,306.57.
Since CPP payments are not automatic, you need to apply ideally before the date you want your pension to start.
While the typical age to start receiving a pension is 65, you can opt to begin receiving it as early as 60. If you choose to start your CPP pension payments at age 65, you will receive $1,306.57 monthly.
CPP Survivor’s Pension
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Survivor’s Pension is a monthly benefit paid to the deceased CPP contributor’s legal spouse or common-law partner.
In the event of the contributor’s death, the eligible survivor will receive a monthly allowance equivalent to half of the pension benefit the contributor would have received before age 65.
The CPP death benefit is a one-time, lump-sum benefit paid to a contributor’s eligible survivor or estate after their death. The average amount for new beneficiaries (as of April 2023) for the survivor’s pension for those younger than 65 is $499.27 and $332.51 for those 65 and older.
The benefit is payable immediately. The survivor is entitled to receive benefits under the CPP/Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) and full survivor benefits under the public service pension plan.
Old Age Security (OAS)
Old Age Security (OAS) is a monthly payment available to eligible seniors aged 65 or over who are residents of Ontario and have lived in Canada for more than ten years. The amount of the OAS depends on how long you have lived in Canada.
If you have been a resident for at least 40 years after turning 18, you can be eligible for the full OAS pension. If you have lived in Canada for less than 40 years after age 18, the amount you receive will be partial.
The maximum monthly OAS pension amount you can receive if you are 65 to 74 years old is $698.60. If you are 75 or over, you can receive up to the maximum monthly payment of $768.46. You will receive the first monthly payment the month after you turn 65.
Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a non-taxable monthly payment for Ontario residents who are 65 or older, recipients of the Old Age Security (OAS) pension and have an annual income below the maximum annual threshold.
You may need to apply for the GIS in writing if you are an OAS recipient. The GIS payment amounts you will receive are based on your age, income and how long you have lived in Canada. You will start receiving your payment after you turn 65.
The maximum monthly payment amount for a single, widowed, or divorced pensioner is $1,043.45. If you have a spouse or common-law partner receiving the full OAS pension, you will receive up to $628.09.
How to Apply for Senior Benefits in Ontario
Below are the steps to apply for senior benefits in Ontario:
- Choose the date you want to start receiving your pension. Apply for it in advance to ensure you start receiving your payment by the date you selected.
- Apply for the benefit online or through a paper application.
- Check if there are other required documents that you need to submit.
- Review your application status using MSCA and select the “Application Status” link.
- Wait for a response from Service Canada.
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) monthly payment increased to $1,306.57 for new recipients starting at 65 years. The Old Age Security (OAS) will increase by 1.3% for the October to December period. In Ontario, the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) will get a maximum increase of nearly $1,000 per person in 2023.
The Ontario Renovates Program provides up to $20,000 in government assistance for seniors living at home in Ontario to help with repairs and accessibility modifications for independent living. The Seniors Community Grant Program provides $1,000 up to $25,000 for local projects that keep seniors safe, healthy and active.
Seniors who turn 65 in Canada are entitled to various benefits, including Old Age Security (OAS), the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS). Other benefits that 65-year-old Canadians are entitled to receive include the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) and Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program.
The Federal 2021 Budget provided a one-time taxable $500 grant for seniors in August 2021 to OAS recipients who were 75 or over. Eligible seniors received the one-time payment regardless of their income or whether or not they were Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) recipients.