Financial support for parents in Ontario

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Find financial support and resources in Ontario for parents with a sick child.

Key points

  • In Ontario, the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care have programs to help families who have extra expenses because they are taking care of a sick family member.
  • Talk to the social worker on your child's health-care team to learn more about the types of financial assistance you may be eligible for and what community health services may be available to you.

If your family has extra expenses because of your sick child, you may be able to obtain financial or other assistance. There are a number of federal tax breaks for children with disabilities in Canada.

You can discuss financial and practical problems with a social worker. They can also direct you to useful community health services.

When you complete an application, always mail the original and keep a copy for yourself. Pay attention to renewal dates for programs that must be re-applied for every year. If you miss a renewal date or hand an application in late, it may result in you losing your benefits. If you have any questions when completing an application, call the appropriate agency for information. Developing a relationship with a worker from each agency can be helpful when specific questions arise about your application or available services. You will need to be organized and keep a phone contact record of everyone you have spoken to.

Some of the options available in Ontario are described here; other provinces may have similar programs.

Ministry of Community and Social Services (Ontario)

Special Services at Home (SSAH)

The Special Services at Home program is intended to support families who are caring for a family member at home. The amount of funding you can access under the SSAH program depends on your child's needs. Your income does not affect whether or not you get any money.

You can use the money to pay for:

  • respite service, not including babysitting
  • part of the cost of programs such as special summer programs
  • someone to work with your child to help develop their skills, such as interacting with friends, taking medication or using public transportation

This money is given for only one year at a time. That means that you must apply for the money every year.

Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD)

The amount of money you earn affects whether or not you can get money under the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities program.

To apply for ACSD, you must provide a list of all the extra expenses you have to pay for because of your child's chronic condition. Examples of these expenses could be meal and travel costs when coming to appointments, extra laundry expenses, special learning equipment or uncovered medication costs. A worker will visit your home once you apply to discuss your situation in greater detail.

If you qualify for the ACSD program, you will also receive Ontario Drug Benefit coverage.

Ontario Disability Support Program

In Ontario, if your child is turning 18 years of age, they can apply for Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) funding if:

  • they have a significant disability associated with their condition (such as a cognitive impairment) that is expected to last for a year or more, AND
  • their condition makes it difficult to work, look after themselves, or get out in the community (for example, they have poorly controlled seizures)

If they are eligible, your child will have Ontario Drug Benefit coverage for their drugs, as well as a monthly stipend to cover other costs such as basic necessities, living expenses and medical expenses.

You will need to call the office nearest you to request an appointment to assess your child's financial and medical eligibility for the program. The appointment should be scheduled about six months before your child turns 18.

Once your child is confirmed to be eligible for the assistance, an application package must be completed. You may need to ask the health-care team for a letter to go with the application.

Applying for SSAH, ACSD or ODSP

The Ministry of Community and Social Services manages the money for the SSAH, ACSD and ODSP. To get copies of the applications or more information, consult the Ministry's web site at:

Other provinces have similar programs. Contact the health-care team or the appropriate government office for more information.

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (Ontario)

Trillium Drug Program

The Trillium Drug Program helps people who have high drug costs. The amount of help depends on the amount of money you earn. If you or your family spend a large amount of your earnings on drugs and/or certain nutritional products, the Trillium Drug Program may be able to help with the costs.

Assistive Devices Program (ADP)

The Assistive Devices Program helps people with long-term disabilities pay for devices to give them more independence or control, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids or communication aids.

Northern Health Travel Grant (NHTG)

The Northern Health Travel Grant program helps with transportation costs for people living in Northern Ontario who must travel long distances (at least 100 kilometres one-way) within Ontario or to Manitoba for medically necessary, insured health services that are not available locally.

Applying for the Trillium Drug Program, ADP, or NHTG

For more information about these programs, consult the Ministry's web site at:

Government and community resources in Ontario

Community Care Access Centres (CCACs)

Community Care Access Centres are funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. They determine eligibility for, provide referrals to, and coordinate short-term and long-term care services in the home and at school, including:

  • personal care
  • nursing
  • physical therapy
  • occupational therapy
  • speech and language therapy
  • respite care
  • transportation

Some of these services may be paid for by the Ministry, while others may be the responsibility of the family.

Reach for the Rainbow

Reach for the Rainbow is an organization that offers integrated summer camp opportunities across Ontario for children and youth with special needs.


ARCH is a legal resource centre for people with disabilities in Ontario. They provide advice, referrals and legal representation to ensure the equality of people with disabilities. They also have a library and resource centre.

Last updated: June 13th 2012