Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP): Allowances

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Income support allowances can be basic (provided to all RAP recipients) or conditional (provided only under certain circumstances, e.g. maternity). Certain allowances are provided one-time only, while others are provided on an ongoing monthly basis.

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Furniture allowance (G/L 59001)

A one-time furniture allowance is provided. Suggested items include the following:

  • beds, dresser
  • sofa, loveseat and/or chair, table
  • table and chairs

Subject to consultation with and approval from NHQ-IN, the local IRCC office manager will decide if this allowance will be provided through:

  • funds given directly to the eligible client in order to purchase the furniture
  • a standing offer with a supplier
  • a contribution agreement with a SPO to provide the goods or
  • a combination of the above (hybrid models)

Hybrid models, when approved by regional management, and supported by NHQ-IN, are when the Furniture allowance is provided to the refugee through a combination of funds and an agreement with a supplier. The client is to receive funds only for the balance of goods not provided by the supplier. For example, the maximum amount for a single without dependants is $1550. If furniture provided through a supplier is valued at $800 (as confirmed by the invoice), then only the funds not exceeding $750 can be provided directly to the client for the purchase of remaining furniture items. These models might also be used when standing offers may not provide the full complement of a furniture package, for instance in periods where there is a reported shortage and the supplier cannot fulfill the requirements of the standing offer. Other variations such as offering clients the choice between cash and procured goods, or paying out unused balance of furniture orders in cash to clients, could be implemented upon approval from regional management, and NHQ-IN consultation, as needed.

No matter how the allowance is provided, it is important that clients receive all or as many as possible of the suggested furniture items and that those items be of good quality, within the allowable rates. Mattresses must be purchased new and a bed bug cover is recommended.

The following table indicates the maximum allowance rates for one-time furniture needs. The total cost of these items should not exceed the maximum allowable rates provided below. NHQ-IN approval is required for exceptions based on special circumstances.

Maximum allowance rates for one-time furniture, including HST and delivery costs (where applicable)
Category Maximum Rate
Per single without accompanying dependants $1550
Per single plus one dependant $2440
Per single plus two dependants $2880
Per couple without accompanying dependants $2280
Per couple plus one dependant $2560
Per couple plus two dependants $3185
Per couple plus three dependants $3885
For each additional dependant $420

Linens allowance (G/L 59001)

A one-time linens allowance is provided. Suggested items include the following:

  • bed linens
  • towels
  • quilt set

Subject to consultation with NHQ-IN (as needed), the local IRCC office manager will decide if this allowance will be provided through:

  • funds given directly to the eligible client in order to purchase the linens
  • a standing offer with a supplier
  • a contribution agreement with a SPO to provide the goods or
  • a combination of the above.

The following table indicates the maximum allowance rates for one-time linens requirements, which also includes any linens (bedding, towels) which may have been provided by the reception center (if applicable). The total cost of these items should not exceed the maximum allowable rates provided below. NHQ-IN approval is required for exceptions based on special circumstances.

Allowance rates for the linens allowance
Category Amount
Per single individual $80
Per Family Size 2 $160
Per Family Size 3 $240
Per Family Size 4 $320
Per Family Size 5 $400
Per Family Size 6 $480
Each additional Dependant $80

Basic household needs allowance (G/L 59001)

A one-time basic needs allowance is provided. Suggested items include the following:

  • basic window coverings
  • common household products such as kitchen utensils, pots and pans, brooms and mops
  • other furniture items not part of a package provided in goods, such as lamps, coffee tables, etc.

The following table indicates the maximum allowance rates for one-time basic needs, which include all household items such as dishes, cutlery, pots and pans, etc. The total cost of these items should not exceed the maximum allowable rates provided below.

Family size Maximum rate
Family of 1 $600
Family of 2 $650
Family of 3 $700
Family of 4 $750
Family of 5 $800
Family of 6 $850
Each additional dependant $50

Staple allowance (G/L 59001)

A one-time staple allowance is provided to set up a household with basic food and cleaning supplies. Maximum rates for a staple allowance are as follows:

  • $210 for a single individual and
  • $90 for each additional family member

The following table indicates the allowance rates for the staple allowance:

Allowance rates for the staple allowance
Category Amount
Per single individual $210
Per Family Size 2 $300
Per Family Size 3 $390
Per Family Size 4 $480
Per Family Size 5 $570
Per Family Size 6 $660
Each additional dependant $90

There is no family maximum.

Clothing allowances (initial, winter, G/L 59001) (replacement after start-up, G/L 59001)

Clothing allowances are provided for initial or regular clothing needs, winter clothing and replacement items. Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) clients and their dependants are eligible for clothing allowances once per 12 months of RAP coverage.

Seasonal and regular clothing allowance

Included in start-up cheque:

  • $375 per adult;
  • $250 per dependent child under age of majority

Included in 13th month cheque for JAS clients:

  • $250 per dependent child under age of majority
  • $375 per adult

Winter clothing allowance

  • April 16th to October 14th arrivals: Initial or September cheque - $175 per adult; $125 per dependent child under the age of majority.
  • October 15th to April 15th arrivals: Winter clothing is routinely issued by the POE SPO during cold weather months. Therefore, no winter allowance is given for arrivals during this period. However, if the officer believes that the POE may not have issued winter clothing or that winter clothing was inadequate, the winter clothing allowance can be issued based on the officer’s discretion.
  • In the 13th month cheque for JAS for clients, a second issuance of winter clothing may be administered.  

Replacement clothing allowance

May be issued in exceptional cases only, for example, in case of fire, flood, health (dramatic loss or weight gain due to health issues). NHQ-IN must approve a re-issuance via an exceptional allowance request.

Partial issuance of winter clothing

In the event of partial issuance of winter clothing (e.g. not all items were provided at the POE) or partial replacement, the following cost estimates may serve as a guide when issuing income support funds for the purchase of required items.

Winter clothing Adults Children
Parkas/Jackets/Snow suit for children $90 $65
Boots $50 $30
Socks/Scarves $15 $10
Hats $10 $10
Gloves/Mittens $10 $10
Total $175 $125

Utility installation allowance (G/L 59001)

The one-time utility installation allowance of $75 includes services such as telephone/internet connection fees and the installation and/or hook-up of utilities (e.g. water, gas, electricity) and should be provided on each adult file regardless of whether or not they are residing in the same household as other families (e.g., roommates or adult dependent children).

Other telephone/internet costs and ongoing service costs are the client’s responsibility and might be covered by using the monthly communication allowance.

School start-up allowance (G/L 59001) (Second instalment, if applicable, 59001)

An allowance of $150 will be provided for school-age children and young adults between the ages of 4 and 17 attending provincial educational institutions (K-12), to defray costs for school supplies, gym clothing, etc. This allowance does not apply to those in the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) or English as a Second Language (ESL) related classes.

Young adults between the ages of 18-21 who can demonstrate that they are enrolled in secondary school full time may also qualify for this allowance. This can be applied to any person in the family, whether dependents or head of household, who are between the ages of 18-21 and are enrolled in high school full time. This allowance would be issued after the start-up cheque is received by the family, as they need to demonstrate their enrolment in school to a RAP officer.

Young adults over the age of 21 may, under exceptional circumstances, be provided with school start-up if it has been determined to be in their best interest to stay in the high school environment. These must be decided on a case- by- case basis, in consultation with NHQ-IN, and proof of enrolment must be provided.

School start-up allowance is normally issued on a one-time basis and should be included in either

  • the initial income-support cheque; or
  • the income-support cheque for the month of August, if applicable.

Some families may require the amount twice, if the entitlement period spans two school years. Families who arrive between September 1 and May 31 are eligible to receive the entitlement twice.

Some JAS families may receive a 3rd installment of the amount, for the same reasons as above, in their second year of JAS.

Assistance loans (G/L 13205)

Assistance loans should be provided for refundable deposit needs, at the request of the client.

For more information see: Procedures – assistance loans

Food and incidentals, and shelter allowances (G/L 59003)

The basic allowance includes monthly food allowance and incidentals (including food requirements, personal care products, etc.) based on prevailing provincial social services basic allowances and policies.

Shelter includes a monthly allowance for rent and utilities based on prevailing provincial social assistance shelter allowances and policies. In some provinces, additional allowances for utilities (e.g. Newfoundland’s fuel supplement) may also be available, but otherwise it is expected that the costs of utilities are also factored into the basic shelter rates. Local offices may be asked to consult with provincial resources (working level contacts or websites) to monitor whether RAP rates for shelter and utilities (if applicable) are consistent with their corresponding provincial rates.

Authority to exceed the prevailing provincial social assistance rate for shelter may be considered on a case-by-case basis due to special circumstances. Due to the impact on budgets, NHQ- International Network (IN)  consultation and prior approval is required (via an exceptional allowance request).

In order to properly allocate sufficient allowance for shelter and utilities (within the maximum allowable rates), it will be necessary to confirm the actual cost of the utilities with the client or the SPO (via the move-out report). Clients should be advised to consider equalized billing, wherever possible, to determine actual monthly costs. When costs are not yet known, the SPO should assist by providing an estimate on the move-out reports, subject to later review by IRCC who may at any time request copies of actual utility bills to ensure the initial estimated amount is sufficient, or needs to be adjusted.

In some provinces, there may be additional allowances for shelter, or food and incidentals, or top-ups available for seniors or clients with disabilities or other special needs. There may also be a different transportation rate for seniors.

Local offices may be asked to consult with provincial resources (working level contacts or websites) to ensure that  RAP rates for special needs or special categories (e.g., clients with disabilities, seniors) are consistent with their corresponding social service rates in their respective province.  NHQ-IN consultation and approval are required for any special set of rates (e.g. seniors or clients with disabilities) due to budget impacts.

The amount of shelter allowance issued to clients (including the housing supplement, if applicable) should not exceed the clients’ actual reported cost for shelter and utilities. If the client shares housing (e.g. adult dependants living with their parents, or singles sharing a dwelling), only their portion of the rent and utilities should be considered for the purpose of determining rates.

Provincial social services policies and legislation are generally available on-line for reference purposes. For specific links, officers or supervisors should consult with the provincial body in their area.

Housing supplement

A housing supplement may be provided to RAP clients who require financial assistance with their rental and utility costs over and above the applicable RAP rate. The RAP housing supplement is a national entitlement that serves as a substitute for the more comprehensive rental supplement and subsidized housing programs offered by provincial and municipal social assistance programs.

When a provincial housing supplement is available (e.g., for larger families) and the applicable provincial supplement exceeds the national RAP housing supplement, the provincial housing supplement may be utilized in lieu of the national RAP housing supplement. However, clients should not receive both.

Determining the need for housing supplement

Officers must be satisfied that the housing supplement is needed before it can be issued. The officer will use discretion in determining need for the supplement and will take into consideration the actual cost of the client’s rent and utilities.

A common scenario where an individual or family may not require the supplement is a household where there is more than one RAP cheque (single or multiple person files) and total RAP shelter allowances could potentially exceed actual rental and utility costs.

OYW RAP clients who are residing with family members are entitled to the housing supplement if a need is demonstrated (e.g., their share of the housing costs exceed basic shelter allowance).

Issuing housing supplement

The housing supplement rate for singles and families can be issued up to a maximum of $200 per month.

The housing supplement shall be pro-rated for partial months similar to other on-going monthly shelter benefits.

Shared housing

When multiple clients share housing, the IRCC officer must complete an assessment of each client’s need for certain allowances. These allowances may include furniture packages or loan amounts for utility deposits or the housing supplement.

In certain cases, when it is known that a client plans to move into a household which is already established, a partial furniture order may be issued and re-evaluated should their situation change during the RAP period.

Multiple clients include singles sharing a residence, or multiple or extended families sharing the same dwelling. These persons should

  • be considered as individuals in their own right (e.g. rates issued per maximums, as needed) and
  • have their needs and assets assessed against their personal income support requirements (e.g. can have their rates reduced based on their actual expenses)

Should a member of the unit become employed, that individual’s earnings will be applied only against their need for continuing income support, which includes themselves and any member within the same income support file.

Transportation allowance (G/L 59003)

A monthly allowance for transportation may be provided based on the current cost of monthly public transportation in that community. The transportation allowance is determined depending on the needs of the client. For example, seniors may be eligible for special senior rates.

In areas where public transportation is not available, a maximum rate of $75 per month per eligible client can be used as the basis for calculating the allowance.

Typically only clients who are 18 or older should receive a transportation allowance. Any special transportation requests, such as taxi, interprovincial travel, or allowance for minors should be made to NHQ-IN as an exceptional allowance request.

In instances where the clients own their vehicle, transportation costs may still be issued per monthly guidelines above.

When transportation rates change in any community, the local RAP office should inform NHQ-IN so that nationally-maintained rates sheets can be updated, and the new rates can be implemented.

Communication allowance (G/L 59003)

A monthly communication allowance of $30 per file is issued so that families can maintain a basic landline for emergencies, school, or employment-related uses (or, if they prefer, they can use this towards their cell phone, or internet plans). This allowance is intended only to cover basic service, and all other costs (e.g., long distance telephone calls and phone and internet plans other than basic service) are the responsibility of the client.

Age of majority top-up allowance (G/L 59003)

An age of majority top-up allowance is for families with dependents turning 18 in provinces where the age of majority is 19. For eligible families, a living allowance supplement of $150 plus the cost of transportation (based on the current cost of monthly public transportation in their community of residence) can be issued.

The purpose of this allowance is to address the financial gap which occurs when a dependent reaches 18 years of age and is no longer eligible for the Canada Child Benefits program, but has not yet reached the age of majority in their province in order to be provided with adult rates. This benefit is a national entitlement issued in eligible provinces for eligible families, loosely based on comparable benefits offered by provincial social assistance programs in applicable provinces.

Dietary allowance (G/L 59003)

An allowance should be provided to clients who submit a physician’s or nurse practitioner’s letter outlining the need for a special diet required due to a health condition. A letter from a Registered Nurse is not sufficient for this allowance. There is no need to request further information unless the client is requesting an amount above the maximum allowance amount due to special circumstances or specific needs.

The maximum allowable is $75 per month per family. If multiple family members present a need, the maximum is still based per family. When a client presents multiple illnesses, the same maximum amount would apply only once.

For making requests above the maximum amount, an exceptional allowance request would need to be submitted to NHQ-IN for approval. Provincial social service allowances are available on-line for officers to determine reasonable amounts associated with the specific dietary requirement, in order to assist with their justification. The client is responsible for providing IRCC with any supporting documentation which may be requested at the discretion of the IRCC officer.

The dietary allowance should not be applied retroactively for periods prior to when the request was made to IRCC, despite the date on the medical note itself. The allowance for this cost should be issued from the date IRCC receives the physician’s or nurse practitioner’s letter and finishes when RAP benefits end, which may be a pro-rated amount in the last month. When the local office receives the note, it should be date-stamped.

If there is a lengthy time gap between the date of the note and the date which it was received, the RAP officer can contact the SPO or client to understand the delay and can exercise discretion on when to commence the benefit.

Maternity-related allowances

Maternity food allowance (G/L 59003)

Upon receipt of a doctor’s (or nurse practitioner) letter confirming the pregnancy, the IRCC officer should approve a $75 monthly allowance to assist with special dietary needs. This monthly allowance is to be issued from the date of receipt of a medical note attesting to the pregnancy and applied until the end of the due date month, or to the end of RAP commitment, whichever comes first. It is not to be applied retroactively to the beginning of the pregnancy. For clients arriving pregnant as confirmed through physician’s notes in GCMS, the local office should make the adjustments immediately, and request a doctor’s (or nurse practitioner) note once in Canada to confirm due date.

Note: The $75 maternity dietary allowance can be provided in addition to the standard dietary allowance of $75 if the client is eligible for both. Maternity dietary allowance is specific to consummation by the mother-to-be and typically covers more than food (supplements, vitamins, etc). Therefore if other persons in the family also have dietary needs, or if the mother-to-be also has a special diet need, they may also benefit from the dietary allowance, subject to the conditions of the allowance specified in the section above.

Maternity clothing allowance (G/L 59007)

Upon receipt of a doctor’s (or nurse practitioner) letter confirming the pregnancy, the IRCC officer should approve a one-time $200 allowance to assist with the purchase of maternity clothing.

Newborn allowance (born in Canada) (G/L 59007)

Upon receipt of a doctor’s (or nurse practitioner) letter confirming the pregnancy and due date, the IRCC officer should approve a one-time $750 allowance to purchase items for the baby, such as clothing and furniture.

This allowance should be administered 2 months prior to the due date of the child indicated on the medical note.

The newborn allowance may be issued for all pregnancies with due dates up to 2 months after RAP ends, (but not if the note was received by IRCC after the end of their RAP commitment), so that the allowance may be issued while the client is still receiving RAP.

If furniture is provided for the newborn baby, for instance if a crib is ordered as part of a standing offer, this cost should be deducted from the $750 allowance.

For twins, or multiple births, the amount is issued per newborn.

Proof of birth

A copy of the original provincial birth registration or certificate is the required proof of birth to adjust the RAP monthly allowance. This official legal document confirms the name and actual date of birth and the copy should be kept in the RAP file.  If this documentation cannot be obtained, the client must provide alternate documentation which confirms the official name and date of birth of the baby, to the satisfaction of IRCC, such as hospital release records.

Exceptional allowance

An approval of an exceptional allowance request is to be used on a case-by-case basis when a client incurs costs that are not covered by other income supports and that constitute an immediate and essential need. Consultation with the local supervisor or manager is required, including recommendation to NHQ-IN for authorization.

Coding

When an exceptional allowance is one-time in nature and is not part of a regular series of payments, and does not belong under an existing monthly or start-up category, it shall be coded under G/L 59007 – Special Payments.

When an exceptional allowance is recurring monthly, periodically, or is already part of a monthly recurring payment (for instance approval to exceed maximums on food or shelter rates), that exceptional allowance should be coded under GL/ 59003.

When an exceptional allowance is related to a start-up entitlement (for instance, the re-issuance of a start-up benefit), it should be coded under GL/ 59001.

Funeral or burial expenses (G/L 59007)

Should a newcomer or the dependant of a newcomer die while in transit to Canada or already in Canada and in receipt of income support under RAP, the IRCC RAP officers will first explore the potential sources of revenue for funeral expenses, such as the individual’s assets, life insurance, family members, or arrangements donated by members of their spiritual community.

If arrangements cannot be made to cover funeral expenses through other sources, the costs may be covered under RAP. Complete details must be provided on file and detailed in the exceptional allowance request..

Funeral expenses (including cremation) should not exceed the established provincial or territorial social assistance rates available to social assistance recipients and would not normally cover the cost to transport a body outside of the area of residence. However, IRCC RAP officers should take necessary steps to ensure that arrangements for burial are carried out quickly and with dignity, and in a manner that respects cultural sensitivity.

When the local office is notified of a death of a client, they may upload the death certificate into GCMS and send a request to the Operations Support Centre to update the status of the client in GCMS.

Child benefits and child tax credits

To receive the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), a client must have dependants under 18 years of age and submit an application to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Clients should apply for the CCB as soon as possible after their arrival in Canada once their SIN number has been received. As part of their initial services, the SPO will first assist the client to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) and then for the CCB.

In addition, the CRA’s website enables benefit recipients to apply online for the CCB and any related provincial and territorial benefits, as well as to register their children for the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit. Any benefits received through these programs are not considered as eligible earnings subject to deductions, see Calculating the 50% additional income incentive.

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