In the previous post, we looked at some of the federal benefit programs available to Canadian residents. This week, we’ll continue the series by touching upon a few more programs in place for our benefit.
Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities
This grant offers $2000 per school year to qualifying students with permanent disabilities to cover tuition, textbook, and accommodation expenses. The student should be enrolled in a part-time or full-time program at a recognized educational institution and must provide proof in the form of a medical certificate or document to prove that they are a recipient of federal/provincial disability assistance.
Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities
Delivered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, this grant offers up to $8000 as non-repayable funds per school year to students with permanent disabilities enrolled in a part-time or full-time program at a recognized educational institution. The qualifying disabilities include exceptional education-related services or equipment such as tutors, technical aids, or interpreters. Proof in the form of a medical certificate or paperwork showing receipt of federal/provincial disability assistance and documentation from a qualified person affirming the need for the exceptional education-related service or equipment is required. More details about qualification for this grant can be found on the Canada Student Financial Assistance Regulations page.
Permanent Disability Benefit
Persons with a permanent disability who are finding it tough to repay their Canada Student Loan due to their disability may be eligible for the Permanent Disability Benefit. The qualification process will involve consideration of net family income including assistance received from social programs. An application packet can be obtained from the National Student Loans Service Centre.
Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program for Persons with Disabilities (RRAP — Disabilities)
This program can be used by homeowners and landlords to seek monetary aid, in the form of a forgivable loan, for modifying their dwelling to make it easier to access for people with disabilities. Qualifying home alterations include removing safety hazards and enhancing the ability of such occupants to perform their day-to-day activities (e.g. handrails, ramps, or bath lifts; supportive/therapeutic care and portable aids such as walkers do not qualify). The dwelling must be used by a low-income person with a disability; if rented, the rent must be below designated amounts for the area, or if owned, the house must be valued below a prescribed limit. This handy tool should help to determine eligibility based on your area of residence. Either way, the property must not have structural shortcomings that instigate such modifications.
Canada Pension Plan Disability Vocational Rehabilitation Program
This program is meant to aid recipients of the Canada Pension Plan disability benefit to return to work; the rehabilitation program is in place for recipients who can and want to return to work. Some facets of the program include guidance, development of new skills, and retraining to help people with disabilities return to their former job, a modified form of their former job, find a new job based on their newly-acquired skills, or prepare for self-employment. They also help in the job-search phase by assisting in preparing résumés, developing interviewing skills, etc.
The Disability Tax Credit is one of the well-known tax provisions available for the benefit of people with disabilities. Please refer to the Disability Tax Credit Certificate form for further details.
Have you applied or helped someone apply for any of these benefit programs? Did you happen to automatically qualify for and receive a related benefit without being aware of it?
About the Author: Clark works in Saskatchewan and has been working to build his (DIY) investment portfolio, structured for an early retirement. He loves reading (and using the lessons learned) about personal finance, technology and minimalism. You can read his other articles here.
Over the past couple of years, a group of bloggers have enlisted in a friendly competition as to who can pick the best stocks for the year. This time around, I was a little less aggressive and picked well known names that appeared to be relatively undervalued at the beginning of the year. My top stock picks for 2011 are: VISA, Royal Bank of Canada, Husky Energy, and Encana.
We did very well in Q1 returning 12.16% including dividends. With a correction in the 2nd Quarter though, a lot of the picks went down with the index. Lets have a look at the numbers to assess the damage.
My Top 4 Stock Picks for 2011
VISA (V) – Everyone knows VISA! The stock has recently sold off due to news that debit card transaction prices may be regulated in the US and VISA has a portion of their business in the debit market place. As one of the worlds most recognized names and the largest card issuer in the world, I’m betting that the stock price will bounce back. Trading price as of Jan 3, 2011: $70.38 (open).
While this stock returned 4.8% in the first quarter, the stock retraced a bit in the second quarter but a lucky break in the last week of June brought high volume buying. Trading price as of June 30,2011 closing: $84.26 . Combined with a $0.30 dividend brings a gain of 20.19% year to date. Disclaimer: I own shares of V.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) – Although Royal Bank is the largest bank in Canada in terms of market cap, it has been severely under performing relative to the other big banks in Canada. As with all the big 5 banks, RY sports a healthy dividend and I’m hoping that RY bounces back this year! Trading price as of Jan 3, 2011: $52.32 (open). Disclaimer: I own shares of RY.TO.
Royal Bank pulled back into the mid 50′s again in the second quarter, perhaps because of their news of closing a portion of their U.S operations and putting more focus on capital markets. Regardless, we are still up for the year thus far. Trading price as of June 30,2011 closing: $55.13 . Combined with a $1.00 dividend brings a gain of 7.24% year to date.
Husky Energy (HSE.TO) – I picked this one a couple years ago and I’m picking it again for some oil exposure. They own oil producing assets in NL, new assets in China in addition to paying a healthy dividend. Trading price as of Jan 3, 2011: $26.55. Disclaimer: I own shares of HSE.TO.
Oil and commodities in general have been under attack in the second quarter which means the energy sector pulled back quite aggressively. The 12% gain in the first quarter was virtually wiped out, but the dividend kept us in the positive. Trading price as of June 30,2011 closing: $26.30 . Combined with a $0.60 dividend brings a gain of 1.12% year to date.
Encana (ECA.TO) – A little while back, Encana split into two companies to divide their natural gas and oil operations. CVE took over the oil side, and ECA took the natural gas. Last year, I picked CVE which was a winner, but this year, I’m going to try my luck with ECA. Even though I’m not bullish over natural gas prices, ECA appears cheap with low Price/Earnings, Price/Book ratios and the dividend does not hurt either. Trading price as of Jan 3, 2011: $29.09
With Encana being a natural gas play, same story here on the commodities pull back. The second quarter sell off wiped out most of the gains in the first quarter. Trading price as of June 30,2011 closing: $29.78 . Combined with a $0.39 dividend brings a gain of 3.70% year to date.
For two quarters in a row I’m happy to report that all four picks returned positive thus far in the year with an overall average return of 8.06%. Not bad considering the S&P/TSX 60 Index (XIU) has returned about 0% including dividends year to date. I’m even more pleased that I have some of these stocks in my trading accounts.
Here are the other results.
- Intelligent Speculator: 9.35%
- Dividend Growth Investor: 8.89%
- My Traders Journal: 8.67%
- Million Dollar Journey: 8.06%
- Where Does All My Money Go: -1.01%
- The Financial Blogger: -3.74%
- Money Smarts Blog: -5.72%
- Wild Investor: -7.69%
- Beating The Index: -12.01%
Some of the Canadian Money Forum members are having their own stock picking contest, and some of them are doing much better than the bloggers listed! For those of you who made picks within the comments on the first stock picks post, how did you do?