Below you’ll find links to local social service programs and financial assistance—including subsidized housing, Covid-19 pandemic funding, free tax services, free legal help and more. If you know of any other services, organizations or websites that could be helpful to people with modest (ie, low/minimal incomes), please contact us and we'll consider adding it to our Resources section. Thank you!
Run by the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), the CRA provides regular tax clinics that are free to people with modest incomes. The volunteers are available to answer your tax-related questions and can also help to file your tax return, just like us, so that you can continue to receive any benefits for which you are entitled.
Here you can access all of the CRA's online services for individuals. You need to register for an online account first, which you can do by clicking the link above. All you need is your Social Insurance Number (SIN), an email address and a phone number to sign up. You can also opt-in to receive all your mail from the CRA electronically inside your own My Account For Individuals. Please note when signing up that you should use a unique password, one that you don't use for any other website or online account (ie, don't use the same one you use for Facebook, Gmail, etc.)
Find out all the information about BC provincial income tax here, including tax rates, BC tax credits and access to all the BC tax forms and publications.
My Self Serve (MySS) is the Province of BC's online portal where you can create an account and sign up online for Income Assistance (welfare) and also Disability Benefits for Persons With Disabilities (PWD Benefits.) To sign up, you will need an email address, your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and your spouse's information (if you're not single.) If you are currently on Income Assistance and have an open case file, you may also need the date of your last assistance payment, your Personal Health Number (PHN) and the expiry date on your Drivers License (if you have one), as well as the last address the Ministry has on file for you.
The Government of Canada has created a comprehensive action plan at the federal level consisting of a number of financial assistance programs to help individuals and families as we all deal with financial consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Links to the Employment Insurance (EI) Program, the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and also a mortgage deferral program if you are behind on payments.
If you are having trouble paying rent, you can put your landlord in touch with the federal government's Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy program.
If you are employed or self-employed and you need to stay home to care for a child under the age of 12 or a family member who requires supervised care, you may qualify for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.
The Province of BC also has financial assistance available at the provincial level. You may qualify for the BC Recovery Benefit (BCRB), a one-time, tax-free payment of up to $500 for eligible individuals and up to $1,000 for BC families.
The Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) provides free, one-on-one legal advocacy for people on income assistance and disability benefits (PWD). They deal a lot with employment standards and residential tenancy issues. If you live in Greater Victoria and need legal support from people who truly care about people, TAPS is an excellent resource.