Contact information for Department of Social Development

Sartain MacDonald Building
551 King Street
PO Box 6000
Fredericton NB E3B 5H1
Telephone : (506) 453-2001
After hours emergencies:(800) 442-9799
Fax : (506) 453-7478

Telephone : 1 (866) 426-5191

Telephone : 1 (866) 441-4340
Saint John
St. Stephen
St. George

Telephone : 1 (866) 444-8838

Telephone : 1 (866) 441-4249
Grand Falls

Telephone : 1 (866) 441-4245

Telephone : 1 (866) 441-4341

Telephone : 1 (866) 441-4246

Telephone : 1 (866) 441-4149

Social Assistance Program

Financial assistance is given to people who have no other income to meet their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. By law social assistance is the payer of last resort. This means that all other income must be considered when determining how many dollars will be provided.

Eligibility for social assistance is determined for each household by identifying all the income from all sources of all people who live in the household. If this total household income is less than the rate which applies to that household, the household is able to receive social assistance. The amount of assistance depends on the amount of household income. The rate which applies to the household is based on the number of people in the household and whether or not they can work. For example, a single mother with one child may receive $861 each month. If she has no income at all, she would receive the full $861. If she has income of $300 a month, then she would receive $561 in social assistance.

A person or household is simply assessed to find out whether or not they need help based on all income of all members living in the household. This means that there is no discrimination with regard to gender, marital status, or sexual orientation. Also, there is no need to ask about the relationships of the people in the household. This policy has exceptions for people with disabilities, single parents, boarders and some people who live with their parents.

Social assistance benefits are not reduced by the amount of child tax benefits that families receive. But they are reduced by child support payments. This policy recognizes that parents have the main responsibility for the financial support of their children. Parents who do not have custody should have to support their children if they can. Taxpayers should not be required to take on this financial duty. Family support payments are deducted dollar for dollar from social assistance cheques. Clients are encouraged to work with departmental staff to register all child support payments with the Court and set them up payable to the Minister. In these situations the clients will continue to receive their full income assistance cheque. This ensures clients do not go through hardship if the non- custodial parent does not make the monthly payment.

A person or household who gets social assistance may be able to receive other benefits. All social assistance clients get a health card. This helps pay for things like prescriptions drugs, dental and vision care, and some other health needs. Some clients may be able to get help to pay for their winter fuel. Some disabled clients receive a disability supplement in the amount of $100.00 monthly.

Social Assistance Rate Schedule A

Social assistance rates are established by Government. Social assistance is provided to individuals on the basis of the number of members of their household and some determination of their employability. There is one schedule which is referred to as rate table Schedule A.

There are three rate programs:

  • Transitional Assistance: For those who are employable, as well as, those requiring support and intervention to become employable. This generally means single person who are able to work and also those with a temporary medical problem. Most families are provided assistance under this program.
  • Transitional Assistance Single Employable: This indicates the case is eligible for the Transitional Assistance –Single Employable (TA-SE) rate of assistance. It is automatically calculated by the system, based on the information entered into the system. Single person units who do not have a designation and are not certified blind, deaf or disabled will receive this rate of assistance, including those who meet the following criteria:
      Single clients living in the parental home

    • Who have an SD Medical Report completed by a physician stating that they are unable to work for 6 months or more or that they are 7 months pregnant. (SD assesses the impact of the medical condition on the individual’s ability to work),
    • Who are 55 years of age and older
  • Extended Benefits Program: For those who are certified by the Medical Advisory Board as blind, deaf or disabled. It also includes some clients who have been on assistance for many years and who have a Special Designation.

Long-Term Needs

The Long-Term Needs Designation will be given to those applicants/clients who are 19 years of age or older and meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Meets criteria for long-term client by Mental Health (written verification required)
  • Is assessed by Social Development as meeting criteria of the Long- Term Care Strategy (written verification required)
  • Is in receipt of CPP Disability or any other disability pension under the Pension Act
  • Has medical reports covering a 24-month period and the Medical Advisory Board approves the Long-Term Needs designation. For applicants this would mean having one Medical Report stating the individual’s condition has existed for 24 months.

The designation is permanent and is to remain with the client regardless of how long they are off assistance.

The designation serves three main purposes.

  • It allows the individual to have an exemption from the Household Income Policy.
  • It guarantees the individual the Transitional Assistance rate of assistance.
  • It eliminates the need to submit a Medical Report every six months.

The Medical Advisory Board’s decision for the Long-Term Needs designation is not appealable and must not be taken to the Regional Family Income Security Appeal Board.

For an applicant, the designation is effective the date of application. For clients, the designation is effective the date of the Medical Advisory Board approval or supervisor approval.

Health Card

SD health cards are required by many financial institutions as identification. Health card PDP coverage is administered by the NB Prescription Drug Program (PDP). Health card ambulance coverage is administered by Ambulance Services, Department of Health.

All programs are subject to benefit guidelines and limitations and have specific eligibility criteria.

Coverage – Exceptions
All active clients are eligible for the health card if they do not have coverage under another plan. In the following exceptions, a health card may only be required for identification purposes (i.e. with no coverage), or upon clarification with the respective plan, partial coverage may be issued:

  • client and/or dependents may have coverage from their spouse/parent as part of the terms of separation or divorce,
  • status Indians (Natives), or
  • post-secondary students with compulsory health insurance coverage.

Coverage of the client’s dependents should be clarified, as dependents of a Native or a student may be covered by their respective health plans for some costs.

Coverage – Partial versus Full
Applicants/dependents aged 19 years or older are eligible for only PDP and Ambulance coverage until they have been in receipt of assistance for three (3) months. Exceptions to this are clients/dependents who are:

  • in provincial institutions,
  • certified Blind, Deaf or Disabled,
  • pregnant,
  • discharged from a psychiatric facility
  • former wards of the province with expired guardianship,
  • former clients (who had full coverage) canceled less than 30 days,
  • former clients (who had full coverage) canceled within the last 6 months for reasons of employment, or
  • suffering from the following illnesses:
    • cancer,
    • lung disease,
    • diabetes,
    • heart condition, or
    • HIV positive/AIDS.

The system will determine health card coverage and dates, based on information entered on the case when initially set up at Registration. The system will adjust coverage accordingly for adults after 3 months to full coverage. The system will also automatically extend the Health Card every 6 months if case is still active.

Health Card under Section 4(4)

Requests for a health card from those who are not eligible for assistance must be assessed under Section 4(4). Health cards issued under this Section may be for any period up to 12 months. Health cards issued under this section will be approved for a period of 12 months, unless circumstances require a shorter duration. Although the entire Household must be assessed for eligibility, the card should be issued to provide coverage only to the specific individual(s) requiring the card.

Applicants who have the Long Term Needs, Designated Needs or Blind, Deaf or Disabled certification and who are not living with a legal or common-law spouse or child would be considered as a separate unit when applying for Health Card Only benefits.

All clients who have been diagnosed with diabetes and are insulin dependent will have coverage for their insulin and their diabetic supplies. Insulin pump and supplies for adults are not covered. There may be coverage for children under the age 19 through the department of Health’s New Brunswick Pediatric Insulin Pump Program (PIPP).

All clients who have been diagnosed with diabetes who are not insulin dependent but are treated by diet alone or taking oral medications may have coverage for a limited number of testing strips, and supplies such as lancets, alcohol and swabs. A medical form completed by a physician, nurse practitioner and /or certified diabetic educator will determined the quantity of test strips that are needed.

Seniors 65 years of age and over who qualify for coverage under the New Brunswick Prescription Drug Program would be eligible for their insulin under this program

Seniors 65 years of age and over may purchase extended health benefits from the Medavie Blue Cross Seniors’ Health Program. Diabetic supplies is one of the benefits covered under this program. Should a senior not apply for this coverage within 60 days following either their 65th birthday, the cancellation of other coverage or eligibility for NB Medicare as a new resident they will face a one-year waiting period for certain benefits which includes diabetic supplies.

Applicants, including seniors who have coverage under other medical plans may be put at a financial disadvantage, depending on their participation fees and/or benefit restrictions under their plan. Depending on the amount of such disadvantage, consideration may be given to assisting these applicant with the additional costs incurred, or in issuing an SD health card. Families requesting dental or optical services for children 0-18 years of age should first be referred to the Health Smiles, Clear Vision plan administered by Medavie Blue Cross. If they have been found ineligible for this plan they may then be assessed under Section 4(4) for dental or optical coverage.


Municipalities are responsible for emergency planning and response. However in the event that the situation requires a response greater than what the municipality can provide they have the option to declare a state of emergency. This state of emergency brings the resources of the province to the aid of the municipalities. In extreme or widespread circumstances it is the province who declares the state of emergency.

For unincorporated areas or Local Service Districts by agreement with NBEMO the Department provides Emergency Social Services without the declaration of a formal state of emergency as no municipal government is in place to make this determination.

Undeclared Emergencies
An Undeclared Emergency is a situation where no formal declaration has occurred and which forces occupants from their residence. This could range from a single family house fire to a larger situation to which a municipality is still able to provide the required services.

In an undeclared emergency, individuals may be referred to the Department for emergency benefits as provided within current policies and procedures. It must be determined if relatives, friends or community organizations, ex: Red Cross, exist that could provide items of basic need, or if the victims themselves have personal resources (i.e., insurance coverage, bank accounts, etc.) If so, these resources must be utilized prior to granting any assistance via regular SA benefit or a 4(4) application.

An application for income assistance is required at the earliest opportunity.

For those who are not eligible for basic assistance, emergency services may be granted for a total maximum period of up to eight (8) days, during which time the individual(s) must secure alternate accommodations. The emergency services may include accommodations, and/or a meal allowance of $7.00 per person meal for restaurant meals, or $8.00 per person per day for groceries. For housing repairs as a result of the Undeclared Emergency, individuals may be referred to the Housing Sector of the Department.

All assistance issued to those who are not eligible for basic assistance is under Section 4(4).

For those who are eligible for basic assistance, emergency services are granted as a client.

Clients with no other available resources may be issued the following as special benefits:

  • to replace basic items such as food, clothing, shelter, a client may be eligible for an amount equal to one month’s basic assistance up to the amount of the household’s Basic Household Rate minus what is available from other resources (ex., Red Cross).
  • to replace household items (household setup) such as dishes, household linens, appliances (fridge, stove, washer) etc. A client may be eligible for up to a maximum of $2000.00 in accordance with the Household Setup Policy.
  • for housing repairs as a result of the emergency, individuals must be referred to the Housing Sector of the Department.

Declared Emergencies
A Declared Emergency is a situation that is declared such by the Minister of Public Safety or by a local municipality. The responsibility of the Department in a declared emergency is to provide Emergency Social Services (ESS). The extent of the response is determined by the Department. These services are food, clothing, lodging, personal social services, registration and enquiry. Each region has an ESS coordinator, and every permanent employee has assigned responsibilities in connection with the emergency plan for their region, and should have a copy of the fan-out chart.

In most declared emergencies, the response needed from SD will be initiated departmental staff on the Provincial Action Committee or by contact with the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) and will be according to the emergency plan for their region.

In a declared emergency, there is no difference in how we respond to our clients vs. non-clients. The level of support and amount of benefits issued will be determined by ESS personnel taking into consideration the requirements of the individual affected, the nature of the emergency, the availability of other resources and guidance from government.

The manner in which the benefits are actually paid is usually only decided once the emergency has been dealt with.

Emergencies in Unincorporated Areas
Departmental response to an Emergency in an unincorporated area is the same as it is to a Declared Emergency.

Fuel Supplement

The fuel supplement is designed to provide assistance to eligible households to assist with the costs of winter heating. The Regular Fuel Supplement is available from November to April of each year to social assistance recipients who meet the criteria.

The Fuel Supplement can provide assistance to cover some of the costs of winter heating, over and above what is included in the basic assistance rate. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis. Many clients are already receiving some type of special assistance related to their heating costs either through SD or others.

Clients who are not considered eligible are those who:

  • Have accommodation costs of less than $100/month.
  • Are receiving the Income Supplement which is $100/month sthrough the heating season
  • Are in subsidized housing where heating has been factored into the monthly cost
  • Live with their parents, are in a boarding situation, have only lot rent, or are in “maintenance only” accommodations.

The types of fuel supplements are Social Assistance Recipients:

  • The Electric Fuel Supplement is provided to eligible households who heat with electricity (fully or partially) in the amount of $150.00 per month, it is available from November to April.
  • The Non-Electric Fuel Supplement of $145.00 per month is available to eligible households from November to April.
  • The Bulk Fuel Supplement of $870.00 for the purchase of wood or oil is provided from November through April. The benefit can be sprovided monthly at $145.00 per month or in a bulk format.

Both Social Assistance Recipients and non-Social Assistance Recipients:

  • The Emergency Fuel Benefit can be provided on a case by case basis to a client or applicant who is experiencing a winter hardship/emergency situation as it relates to winter heating costs. s The benefit can be up to $550.00 per calendar year.

Emergency Fuel Benefit

The emergency fuel benefit is designed to provide assistance to eligible households to assist with the costs of winter heating.

Any household in New Brunswick that is in an emergency situation and unable to afford the cost of heating its home may be eligible to receive this benefit. The department will assess eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

An emergency fuel benefit of up to $550 per calendar year may be provided to eligible New Brunswick households whether or not they are receiving social assistance. This benefit is provided to eligible applicants regardless of what type of heating they use.

Examples of an emergency situation include:

  • a high heating bill due to the cold, which means that you are not able to pay your rent or mortgage;
  • having to choose between feeding your family and paying your swinter heating bill; or
  • an illness resulting in unexpected high medical costs, which have smade it hard to pay your heating bill.

For the purpose of assessing need for the emergency fuel benefit, the department will assess all household expenses, but remove the requirement that assets be depleted in order to qualify for assistance.

The asset exemption will ensure that items such as investments (RSPs, GICs etc.), life insurance cash value, etc. are not considered in determining if the household is in need of an emergency fuel benefit, and cash-in-hand and bank accounts will only be considered if they exceed $2,000. This will allow people to seek assistance for a present-day emergency without sacrificing savings for the future.

All New Brunswick households who find themselves in an emergency situation may apply for the emergency fuel benefit, because eligibility will be assessed on the basis of whether or not a household is in deficit, based on income and expenses. A benefit of up to $550 per calendar year could be provided, depending on the size of the household deficit.

Heating Allowance

The Heating Allowance provides assistance for the heating costs of subsidized households in Social Development’s rental programs and in Non-Profit and Cooperative Housing projects whose rental payments are subsidized by the Department. The Heating Allowance is part of the rental payment calculation for clients subsidized under these programs and is utilized to reduce their monthly rental payment.

Eligible clients are households who pay their own heating bills and are in rental units owned by Social Development or in Non-Profit and Cooperative Housing projects whose rental payments are subsidized by the Department.
The Heating Allowance is designed to provide assistance for the Heating Costs of clients living in rental units owned by Social Development and in Non-Profit and Cooperative projects whose rental payments are subsidized by the Department. The Heating Allowance reduces the monthly rent payment of these clients with the amount of the Heating Allowance varying depending on the type of unit, number of bedrooms or the unit’s location.

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