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Retiring in Canada: Social Welfare and Family Benefits

Canada is a beautiful, vast, peaceful country. It has long been one of the most attractive destinations for Hong Kong immigrants because of its superlative welfare system, open-mindedness and great living standards.

Canada is safe, multicultural and hospitable. For many Hong Kongers, it represents a truly idyllic retirement destination. The country has not been immune to various global financial crises, but it has weathered the storms on the real estate, economic and jobs front far better than have the UK and US. Morale is therefore relatively high in the country, and locals are friendly and welcoming to immigrants.

Today we delve into the reasons behind Hong Kongers’ love for retiring in Canada, the ultimate destination for those seeking adventure, community and nature after a life and career in the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong.

Elderly welfare

Social welfare in Canada is magnificent, and several government programs exist to help older Canadian citizens. If you are eligible, the amount of welfare you receive will depend on your income. Most programs begin at age 65, although a few can start earlier.

In order to be eligible, you must file a personal income tax return. After that, retirement-age citizens have several options.

Old Age Security (OAS)

Citizens aged 65 or older who have lived in Canada for at least 10 years can apply for OAS. You can file your application 6 months before your 65th birthday, and you are encouraged to complete an annual income tax return in order to avoid any processing delays.

Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

Canadians on low incomes who already receive the OAS can also apply for the GIS. If your spouse is aged 60–64, they can apply for a separate benefit, the Allowance. This can also be claimed by a widow or widower aged 60–64, in which case it is termed the Allowance for the Survivor.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

Most Canadian workers pay into the CPP, which provides retirement, survivor, disability, death and children’s benefits to those who are eligible. There are also special provisions for those who reduced their earnings in order to raise young children. Sharing provisions exist for spouses and common-law partners.

Quebecers may also pay into the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP). If these people have paid into both the QPP and CPP, their contribution amounts are added.

Other federal programs

Some retirement-age Canadian citizens may also be eligible for other programs, including:

  • The Home Adaptation for Seniors’ Independence Program, which helps low-income pensioners with certain home renovations.
  • The War Veterans Allowance.
  • The Assisted Living Program for First Nations people and Inuits.
  • The Residential Rehabilitation Assistance and Emergency Repair Programs, for pensioners on low incomes.
  • The International Benefits Program, which is likely to be of particular interest to Hong Kong emigrants because it is designed specifically for those who have lived or worked in another country.
Healthcare

Healthcare in Canada is dynamic, fair and forward-thinking. The publicly funded system has seen many reforms in the past 4 decades and continues to respond rapidly to changes in the medical and societal landscapes. Fundamentally, however, its values remain constant: universal coverage for medically necessary healthcare services based on need, not pay. Treatment, medical appointments, dental visits, even eye tests — all are free.

Community

Chinese immigrants entering Canada can feel safe in the knowledge that they will be coming into an established community with rich Chinese heritage and presence. Even though social networks are already strong in China, most Chinese immigrants in Canada assert that the provision of social support exceeded their expectations and helped them overcome obstacles in their immigration process. 

Religious institutions and community centres provide Chinese immigrants with a sense of community and support. Furthermore, Chinese immigrants who have lived in Canada for some time are able to help other incoming Chinese people to integrate into Canadian society by introducing them to the country’s culture and customs. Most importantly, the ingratiation of Chinese immigrants into Canadian society is not contingent on age. Indeed, retirement-age individuals are widely considered uniquely beneficial to society because they are regarded as pillars of the community, wise, experienced, not to mention demonstrably open to new experiences, cultures and peoples.

Family welfare for the future

Many retirement-age Hong Kongers immigrating to Canada will not be the only generation of their families making the move. It is not uncommon for immigrants to have immigrated as an entire multigeneration family, consisting of their adult children and young grandchildren. Therefore, retirement-age Hong Kong emigrants moving to Canada have not only their own welfare to consider but also that of both their family and their progeny.

Family benefits in Canada come courtesy of a truly superlative welfare system. This which will be of great interest to Hong Kong emigrants and represents yet another reason why Canada remains one of the most popular retirement destinations for Chinese emigrants.

Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

The CCB is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the costs of raising children. Depending on circumstances, the CCB may encompass Child Disability Benefit.

The CCB is calculated based on your income tax and benefit return. In order to receive CCB, you must file your return annually, even if you had zero income that year. Your spouse or common-law partner must file a separate return. Benefits are paid over a 12-month period from July to June, after which they will be recalculated.

Parental Sharing Benefit (PSB)

The PSB is a very recent innovation in the Canadian welfare system, whereby parents may receive extra weeks of Employment Insurance parental benefits in order that they can share the pleasure and joy of raising their children on a more equal basis. These extra weeks are available to parents of children born (or placed with them for the purpose of adoption) on or after March 17th, 2019, if parental benefits are shared.

Education benefits

Several financial options are available to Canadian citizens to support their children through their schooling, including:

  • The Canada Education Savings Grant and Canada Learning Bond pay up to $7,200(CAD) and $2,000(CAD) respectively, to encourage parents, friends and relatives to save well in advance of a child’s post-secondary education.
  • Registered Education Savings Plans provide tax-sheltered education savings account for post-secondary education.
Who said retirement couldn’t be an adventure?

An entire new world awaits forward-thinking, effervescent, go-getting retirement-age Hong Kongers. Canada has incredibly high standards of living, friendly and welcoming people and picturesque natural beauty. A laidback society and relatively low cost of living mean Canada is becoming ever more popular a retirement destination for Hong Kongers.

The residency and visa decisions, tax complications and associated costs of the immigration process itself mean you’re strongly recommended to consult a financial advisor if considering Canada as a retirement destination一 Simard & Associates can help. We are a Hong Kong-based professional immigration intermediary for clients in Canada, North America and other popular and desirable immigrant countries. Get in touch today and one of our friendly team will set you on the path to your ultimate retirement adventure in the Great White North!