Is CHB (Canada Housing Benefit) social assistance?

Canada Housing Benefit and social assistance for immigration to Canada

Olivia is a Canadian citizen and a resident of Dieppe, New Brunswick. Life has been hectic recently, so she is receiving the new Canada-New Brunswick Housing Benefit (CHB). Of course, the CHB helps her manage her finances. Meanwhile, Olivia wants to marry the love of her life and sponsor him to Canada. However, she doesn’t know if Canada Housing Benefit is social assistance. If the answer is yes, she won’t be able to pursue the sponsorship process.

What is Canada Housing Benefit

The CHB program is a collaboration between the Federal Government and some provinces in Canada. You may receive financial assistance to offset your home lease payments if you qualify. For example, click here to check out the New Brunswick version of CHB. We also found Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit via the City of Toronto and the Peel region websites.

What is social assistance?

Section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) offers the following definition for social assistance:

Social assistance means any benefit in the form of money, goods or services provided to or on behalf of a person by a province under a program of social assistance, including a program of social assistance designated by a province to provide for basic requirements including food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies, personal requirements and health care not provided by public health care, including dental care and eye care. (assistance sociale)

Source: IRPR

We are curious if Canada Housing Benefit qualifies as social assistance. However, we need to know what social assistance means for immigration.

How does social assistance affect immigration to Canada?

If you sponsor a family member, you may not receive social assistance. However, disability benefits, such as ODSP, are exceptions. You also need to know that an intention to rely on social assistance in Canada could make a foreign national inadmissible. Consequently, if you are immigrating to Canada, you must convince the officer you have the ability or intent to stay away from such services (practitioners see A39).

Is Canada Housing Benefit social assistance?

I suspected that CHB is social assistance. However, to make sure, I contacted the Department of Social Development in New Brunswick by email and raised this question. Here is the answer I received:

Hello,

Thank you for your email.

The Canada-New Brunswick Housing Benefit is designated as a “social assistance” type benefit for tax purposes. Approved recipients get a T-5007 to help reduce the tax burden of receiving the Canada-New Brunswick Housing Benefit.

However, Social Development’s “Social Assistance (Welfare)” and the Canada-New Brunswick Housing Benefit are completely separate programs. The Canada-New Brunswick Housing Benefit is a payment made directly to households to address rental affordability. Therefore, it is a housing benefit.

Other than for tax purposes, the Department of Social Development does not consider the Canada-New Brunswick Housing Benefit to be Social Assistance.

I cannot provide any guidance or information about the impacts to your sponsorship.

Thank you,

Email response from the Government of New Brunswick.

Considering this response, it is safe to say, CHB is NOT social assistance as defined by IRPR. Nonetheless, IRCC could see this differently. Therefore, be cautious if you are sponsoring a loved one to Canada. You may also like to know that other benefits such as EI, CERB, and CRB are not social assistance.

Let us help!

You may still have questions about social assistance and immigration to Canada. One option is to book a consultation session with me. However, please note that I’m not an expert in Canada Housing benefits. For visa and immigration options, consider filling out our assessment form. Moreover, I offer mentorship sessions for licensed practitioners. Lastly, if you are facing an immigration problem, please fill out the following form.

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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