Income Assistance (IA)
The Income Assistance (IA) program provides people in financial need with assistance with basic needs such as food, rent, utilities like heat and electricity, and clothing. The program may also help you with other needs such as child care, transportation, prescription drugs, emergency dental care, and eye glasses.
(In some places, programs that help people with basic requirements are called "social assistance", "income support" or "welfare".)
Once you receive Income Assistance, you may be able to take part in one of our many Employment Support Services (ESS) programs, which help people become more self-sufficient.
You may be eligible for income assistance if you
- live in Nova Scotia
- are 19 years of age or older
(You also may be eligible under special circumstances if you are 16 to 18 years of age.)
- are in financial need
(Your monthly income is less than the amount the ESIA Program allows for basic expenses such as food, rent or mortgage, clothing, taxes and utilities like heat and electricity.)
Read our detailed steps about how to apply for Income Assistance, including information on who to contact, what information you need to apply, and how you will receive your money.
Income Assistance programs and other information
- How to Apply for Income Assistance
Call or visit us to get started with your application.
- Who Can Receive Income Assistance?
You have the right to apply for Income Assistance if you live in Nova Scotia and you are 19 or over.
- Basic Income Assistance Rates
The amount you can expect to receive to cover the the cost of your basic needs.
- Supports Beyond Basic Assistance
Income Assistance can help with special needs beyond the basics.
- Money From Other Sources
The program treats money you receive differently depending on why you got it and where it comes from.
- Benefits For Children
The federal and provincial governments both pay a benefit for children under the age of 18 to low-income families.
- Medical Costs
This program provides assistance with a variety of special needs.
- Prescription Drug Coverage (Pharmacare)
Drug coverage available to recipients of Income Assistance and others who qualify.
- Career Seek: Help to Attend Post-secondary Programs
This program allows eligible Income Assistance recipients to receive benefits while they attend university or a post-secondary education program.
- How Going to School Affects Income Assistance
Make sure that you speak to your worker about your continuing eligibility for Income Assistance.
- How Having a Job Affects Income Assistance
There are a number of ways Income Assistance program may continue to help you.
- School Supplies for Families with Children
You can use the money to buy anything your child must have for school.
- Harvest Connection Program
This program allows eligible recipients to keep up to $3,000 of income earned from working in seasonal harvesting.
- How to Appeal a Decision About Your Income Assistance
You may appeal any decision related to your application or the amount of your assistance.
- Appeal Hearings
If you have appealed an ESIA decision, and you are unhappy with the results of the Administrative Review, you can request an appeal hearing.
- Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA) Policy Manual (PDF)
This manual contains all of the policies that your worker uses when making decisions.