The Government of Canada has announced a new proposal that would see a one-time $500 top-up of the Canada Housing Benefit.

The tax-free payment would support low-income renters who are facing housing or affordability difficulties, and likely also feeling the brunt of inflation.

The Canada Housing Benefit would be available to individuals with an income below $20,000 and families with an adjusted net income below $35,000. According to the federal government, an estimated 1.8 million Canadians are eligible, none perhaps more important than students, many of whom are have faced a plethora of housing difficulties, whether it be not being able to find a rental at all, not being able to afford the rentals they see, or having to settle for sub-par standards of housing.

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The one-time payment will not be automatic and would require an application, however. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) would need to verify an applicant's age, income, and residency before the CRA distributes the payment. Applicants would also need to have filled out their 2021 tax return and attest that they:

  • Are paying at least 30% of their adjusted net income on shelter;
  • Are paying rent for their own primary residence in Canada, which would include the address of the rental property, the amount of the rent paid in 2022, and the landlord’s contact information; and
  • Consent to the Canada Revenue Agency verifying their information to confirm eligibility.

The proposal, which is pending Parliamentary approval and would be launched later this year if approved, totals to about $1.2 billion in funding, $475 million of which was committed in Budget 2022.

This one-time top-up of the Canada Housing Benefit would also not reduce other federal income-dependent benefits, such as the Canada Workers Benefit, the Canada Child Benefit, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and the Goods and Services Tax Credit.

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The announcement -- made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in New Brunswick on Tuesday -- is part of the Government of Canada's Affordability Plan, which seeks to help Canadians with affordability during a time where costs of living are rising, via a multitude of measures that totals to $8.9 billion in funding.

The federal government simultaneously announced a separate proposal that would double the GST Credit payment for six months and be delivered via a one-time lump sum payment, also by the end of the year. That proposal also requires Parliamentary approval, but does not require any further action from Canadians. The government estimates that approximately 11 million individuals and families are eligible.

Also announced was a new Canada Dental Benefit, which would provide support for families with children below the age of 12.

“From helping families pay rent to making sure people can afford the dental care they need and putting hundreds of dollars back in the pockets of Canadians, this suite of new measures will support families who need it the most, when they need it the most," said Prime Minster Justin Trudeau. "As we head into a new Parliamentary sitting, we are working hard to continue delivering results for the middle class and those working hard to join it."