Feds working on ‘wrinkle’ that excluded AISH recipients from $500 rent top up

Click to play video: 'Canada Housing Benefit one-time top up for low-income renters starts Monday'
Canada Housing Benefit one-time top up for low-income renters starts Monday
In a bid to help tackle skyrocketing rents across the country, the government of Canada will be opening applications Monday for a one-time top-up as part of the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) program. The initiative that would put $500 in the pockets of low-income renters — with families making a net income of $35,000 a year and individuals earning less than $20,000 eligible. – Dec 11, 2022

The federal government is working on a “policy wrinkle” that made Albertans who rely on Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) payments ineligible for the $500 rent top-up payment.

In December 2022, the Government of Canada opened applications for the one-time top-up as part of the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) program — an initiative that would put $500 in the pockets of low-income renters as rent costs soar across the country.

To qualify, renting families must have a net income of less than $35,000 a year or renting individuals must make less than $20,000. AISH recipients receive just a few hundred dollars over that annually.

“There’s a wrinkle in the policy,” said Edmonton MP and Liberal minister Randy Boissonnault, while in Edmonton for a tourism announcement Tuesday.

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“What’s happened is — we set the threshold at — you have to be making $20,000 and less to have access to the $500 top up. In the case of AISH recipients here in Alberta, they actually make $20,244.

“This is a terrible policy wrinkle. I don’t like it. I’m working with (the ministries of) Finance and Housing to figure out a solution to solve it.”

On Dec. 15, 2022, Alberta asked the federal government to adjust the income requirement, saying the current limit makes tens of thousands of Albertans with disabilities ineligible.

Click to play video: 'Growing affordability concerns for Canadian renters'
Growing affordability concerns for Canadian renters

Jeremy Nixon, Alberta’s minister of seniors, community and social services, said he’s been talking with the feds for months on this and has yet to hear any updates.

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“It’s really disappointing,” he said Monday.

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“Over the last three or four months, I’ve had the chance to meet with several federal ministers, including our local federal minister here in Edmonton, as well as the minister of disabilities — Minister (Carla) Qualtrough — and both of them expressed concern and said they’d go and advocate within their cabinet, within their caucus, to make sure that Albertans weren’t left out.

“We haven’t heard why they haven’t made this change to make sure 73,000 Albertans with disabilities are included for this rent top up.”

Nixon said he believes if the federal government had done its homework ahead of time, it would have set a different eligibility threshold.

“Albertans were the only ones who were excluded,” he said. “I don’t know what you say at this point.

“Minister Qualtrough mentioned Alberta is the best in the country in regards to supports for the disabled community, and wanting to get the rest of Canada caught up.

“I think this is really bad statement to leave Albertans out, especially when you’re acknowledging that you want to see the rest of Canada catch up to Alberta.”


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When Global News reached out in December, the office of the federal minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion and CMHC provided a joint statement, saying the one-time top-up to the CHB would help nearly two million renters who are struggling with the cost of housing.

The statement also said: “this measure is a top-up to the already existing CHB, which includes the Canada-Alberta Housing Benefit. This federally-led and jointly funded program is administered directly to Albertans in need of rental assistance, based on low incomes determined through criteria available on the government of Alberta’s website.”


“We were on this way before we saw the letter from the premier,” Boissonnault said Tuesday.

“I’ve talked to residents in my own riding and residents across Alberta, and we’re working on a fix.

“It’s one of those oversights. I want to make sure AISH recipients and people who make less than $20,000 who are entitled to the $500 top up are able to get it.”


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