March 13, 2018

Finding the federal government’s best financial resources

A young woman reviews financial resources on Canada.ca. A young woman reviews financial resources on Canada.ca.

You may not think of the federal government when looking for financial help online, but Ottawa does offer a range of digital resources on its official website File opens in a new window that can help you with your finances.

So, let’s explore some of the more valuable federal government resources that can be found online.  

Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP)

On the surface, RRSPs offer Canadians a way to save for retirement. But that’s not all they can do – in fact, RRSPs can also be used to help Canadians buy their first home or get a post-secondary education.

On that note, the federal government now offers its Lifelong Learning Plan File opens in a new window, which allows qualified individuals the opportunity to use up to $10,000 of their RRSP savings for educational purposes each calendar year. Up to $20,000 total can be used for this purpose. The Canada.ca website provides all the information – including important forms and publications – to get started. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to begin repaying the money you borrowed from your RRSPs starting the year following your withdrawal.

Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)

Just as the Lifelong Learning Plan offers Canadians a way to use their RRSPs for educational purposes, the Home Buyers’ Plan File opens in a new window provides an opportunity for people to use RRSP savings to purchase their first home.

Specifically, the program allows Canadians to withdraw up to $25,000 from their RRSP savings to either buy or build a home. The only major catch: you have to repay your RRSP within 15 years.* Overall, it’s a great way to help Canadians manage the down payment of a new home.

My Account – Canada Revenue Agency

If you want to check the status of your bank accounts and investments, chances are your financial institution has a digital platform for that. These days, many organizations even offer their employees digital tools for accessing information about their pay and work-based benefits, pensions and investments.

The Canada Revenue Agency’s My Account File opens in a new window service provides similar features, but for tax purposes. Here, you can make changes to your personal information, check out and change your annual tax return, track the status of your tax refund, set up a direct deposit and more. You can even log in using the same sign-in information you use for your financial institution’s online banking platform, meaning that’s one less password you have to remember. Overall, it’s a great alternative to calling the Canada Revenue Agency and waiting on hold.

Financing your new business

Getting a new business off the ground is often a challenge; thankfully, there are opportunities for new business owners to receive government or even private-sector financing through Canada.ca’s Financing your new business File opens in a new window tool, which is a part of the government’s Canada Business Network File opens in a new window initiative.

The tool provides an extensive list of financing opportunities and to links to regional and industry-based associations that can help new business owners hit the ground running.

The Canada Child Benefit

Growing your family means adding to your list of financial responsibilities. To help with this, the federal government currently offers the Canada Child Benefit File opens in a new window, which was introduced in 2016. According to the government’s website, the goal of the benefit is “to strengthen the middle class and help those working to join it.” In short, the Canada Child Benefit is a tax-free payment, provided on a monthly basis, that helps Canadian families with the cost of raising children under 18.

If you’re new to parenthood, the Canada Child Benefit page provides a variety of tools to help you understand the program, including videos and a calculator designed to help you estimate how much your family will receive.

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada File opens in a new window, or FCAC, is tasked with ensuring that the federal government’s regulations are followed by organizations doing business in Canada and with Canadians. The agency’s mandate also includes educating Canadians about their financial rights and bringing important financial matters to the attention of consumers.

That makes the FCAC page on Canada.ca an excellent resource for learning about new rules and regulations designed to help protect Canadian consumers. It’s also an excellent resource for articles highlighting financial threats to Canadians, such as this report File opens in a new window about managing debt as interest rates rise. The FCAC also offers financial literacy programs and a financial literacy database that can be used to help teach young people about the value of saving their money and creating a realistic and comprehensive budget.

 

* Technically, this repayment starts the second year after the year you take funds out of your RRSP for the purpose of buying a home, unless you choose to start repaying it sooner.