2014 January  - Download file

Changes to Parents and Grand Parents Sponsorship

Sponsorship program will resume on January 2, 2014

Citizenship and Immigration Canada have announced that they will re-open family sponsorship of parents and grandparents for new applications on January 2, 2014.  However, only 5,000 applications will be accepted in 2014.  Furthermore, these applications will be accepted on a first come, first served basis, from all countries.  Therefore, it is critical that applicants interested in sponsoring their parents and grandparents to Canada do so without delay at the very beginning of the year.

The following new criteria applied for parents and grandparents sponsorship submited after January 2, 2014:

I.      Undertaking period increased from 10 years to 20 years

As before, sponsors will have to sign an undertaking to provide financial support and reimburse the government for any social assistance received by the sponsored person.  However, the period of the financial undertaking for parents, grand parents and their dependent under the same application will now be extended to 20 years instead of 10 years.  For example, if the sponsor’s parent is 55 years old when sponsored to come to Canada, that sponsor will have to be financially responsible until that parent is 75 years old.

 II.    Minimum necessary income for sponsor increased by 30%

The financial threshold that sponsors will have to meet to sponsor their parents and grandparents will be increased by 30%.  Prior to the changes, sponsors had to meet the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) before financially qualify to be a sponsor.  After the changes, the financial threshold will be 1.3 times LICO.

For example, prior to the changes, a single person with no children wishing to sponsor their parent or grandparent would have to have income exceeding $23,298 (using 2013 figures).   After the changes, that same person would have to have 1.3 times that amount of income to sponsor – income exceeding $30,288.  Note that LICO increases as the size of the sponsor’s family increases.

 III.    Minimum necessary income must be met for 3 straight years instead of 1

The changes will not only increase the financial threshold, but also the amount of time that sponsors will have to meet the new financial threshold.  Sponsors will have to meet the financial threshold for 3 consecutive tax years immediately prior to the time the application is submitted. 

For example, if a person sponsoring a grandparent in 2014 would have to prove that his/her income exceeded the minimum necessary income for the tax years 2013, 2012, and 2011.  If the sponsor’s income falls short in even one of these years, the sponsor would not qualify.

Proof of Income Requirements

 I.      Only use CRA documents may be used to prove income

When parent and grandparent sponsorship re-opens on January 2, 2014, only official Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) documents, such as Notices of Assessment, may be used to demonstrate minimum necessary income.  Non-CRA documents will no longer be accepted as proof of income.

 II.    Greater powers for immigration officers to request proof of income

Immigration officers will now be able to request updated income information from the sponsor at any point one year after Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) receives the sponsorship application but before a decision is made.  This is important since processing times for sponsorship applications are often very long, so sponsors should be aware that they may be required to provide updated CRA information even after the initial application is sent in.

Applications BEFORE January 1, 2014

Any sponsorship applications that were already being received by CIC before January 1, 2014 will continue to use the old criteria in processing their applications.  The above changes will only apply to applications received by CIC after January 1, 2014.

OW and ODSP Rates & OCB increase as of September / October 2013

Ontario Works :

  • OW rates were increased by 1% starting October 1, 2013.
  • Single people on OW received an additional increase of $14 / month in Basic Needs, bringing the total monthly increase to $20 / month.
  • Single parents on OW only received a 1% increase on what the government calls the “adult portion” of their Basic Needs allowance but not on the “single parent supplement”, as well as a 1% increase to the maximum Shelter allowance.

Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)

  • ODSP rates were increased by 1% starting September 2013.
  • All people with children, and couples without children where the spouse does not have a disability, only received the 1% increase on the amount intended to support the person with a disability. In other words, there was no increase provided for the amounts intended to support non-disabled spouses or children.

For information on increases to other OW & ODSP benefits, please see fact sheet at http://www.incomesecurity.org/documents/OWandODSPRatesandtheOCB.doc, which also provides details on the various different increases to Basic Needs and Shelter allowances and OCB-related rate restructuring, outlined above.

Consumer Alert – Hot Water Heater Rentals

Many consumers in Ontario are tempted to rent a new water heater from door-to-door salespeople who offer deals that sound too good to pass up.

The Ministry of Consumer Services asks consumers to beware – complaints about water heater rental businesses have gone up significantly over the past year.  Most of these complaints are about unclear or misleading contracts.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t sign on the spot.  If the salesperson pressures you to sign on the spot, insist you need more time to read the contract, including the fine print.
  • Get it in writing.  Ask about the rental fees, installation, repair and extra service charges and promises, such as warranties – and insist on getting these details in writing.
  • Ask for identification.  Ask for photo identification, the name of the company the salesperson works for and to keep a copy of any sales material that the salesperson shows you.

 Be sure before you buy.  Once you agree to have a water heater installed in your home, you will have to pay some costs if you change your mind.   These costs include:

  • The rental payments still due when you terminate.
  • The expenses the rental company has to pay to remove the water heater.
  • Charges for unreasonable or excessive wear or use of the water heater.
  • Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act protects consumers who rent water heaters.  Before you rent, be aware of your rights.   

You have the right to cancel a contract if:

  • You change your mind – for any reason – within 10 days after you’ve received your written copy of the contract.
  • The business or salesperson who you’ve signed your contract with has made a false, misleading or deceptive statement.  In this case, you can cancel an agreement for up to one year after you signed it.
  • The agreement does not meet all the requirements of Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act.  In this case, you have up to one year to cancel the agreement.
  • The contract you sign is not clear or easily understood – or doesn’t clearly disclose key information you need to know.
  • You do not have clear information about your rights in the contract itself.

You should also know that when you buy a home, you may be taking on the responsibility for an existing water heater contract that comes with your home.  Ask the homeowner, your real estate agent or your lawyer for more information before buying the home.

If you have questions or concerns about water heater suppliers or rentals, call the Ministry of Consumer in the Greater Toronto Area at (416) 326-8800, toll-free at 1-800-889-9768 or via e-mail at consumer@ontario.ca.

Minimum Wage Increased to $11/hour

 The general minimum wage inOntariowill be raised from $10.25/hour to $11/hour effective june 1, 2014.  This minimum wage increase will apply to most workers whether you are working in full time job, part time job or a temporary job arranged by a work agency.  Even if your wage is calculated by piece-rate, the $11/hour minimum wage still applies to you.

For students under 18 and working not more than 28 hours per week or during a school holiday, their minimum wage will be raised from $9.60/hour to $10.30/hour.  For liquor servers their minimum wage will be raised from $8.90/hour to $9.55/hour. Home workers wage will be raised from $11.28/hour to $12.10/hour.

Congratutation! Smile

Avvy_get_award.jpgCongratulation to our clinic director Avvy Go for her appointment to the province’s highest honour, the Order of Ontario, in January. Order of Ontario appointees are chosen for their contributions to the arts, law, science, medicine, history, politics and philanthropy. Avvy is one of 25 people to be recognized by Lieutenant Governor David Onley this year.!