Hepatitis C: An In-Depth Guide



People living with hepatitis C may have difficulty working if their illness becomes severe or the side effects of treatment become difficult. Different programs are available to help cover costs of living for people in these situations. Income assistance (also referred to as financial or social assistance) is for people who need help paying for basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing and health care. Applicants may want to discuss their health status with their case worker so they can get the most financial and social support possible.

Programs in Québec

Social Assistance Program and Social Solidarity Program

In Québec, the Department Emploi et Solidarité Sociale provides two last-resort financial assistance programs to people who need help paying for basic needs like food, clothing, rent and health-related costs, such as prescription drugs and transportation to medical appointments.  The Social Assistance Program is designed for people with no severely limited capacity to work while the Social Solidarity Program is for people who are not able to work for a variety of reasons, including disability, prolonged illness or an emergency situation.  The amount of money people can receive each month depends on household income, family size, health-related costs and/or emergency circumstances.

In addition to receiving a monthly assistance cheque, clients receive health benefits that include coverage for eligible prescription drugs, dental and eye care, medical transportation and accommodation and other special health needs.  People living with hepatitis C who are too ill to work for at least one month may be interested in applying for the Temporary Limited Capacity Allowance.  This allowance provides recipients with additional financial assistance on top of the basic monthly cheque to help cover living and medical costs. 

Other special benefits, such as financial help with housing, an emergency situation like a fire or having to move because of your health condition are also available to eligible clients who may be experiencing a difficult situation.  People can speak with their case officer to see if they are eligible for the Temporary Limited Capacity Allowance or for other special benefits that are provided by the two financial assistance programs.   

Emploi Québec 

If people need help with education, job training and finding and retaining employment, they can seek assistance through Emploi Québec.  People can speak with their case officer at their Local Employment Centre (CLE) to see what programs may be available to meet their needs.

To apply for last-resort financial assistance in Québec, people can either print and fill out the online application forms and mail them to the closest CLE, or they can visit their CLE to get more information. 

If a person disagrees with a decision about their application for financial assistance, they have the right to request a review. To begin this process, people can fill out the online application for review form or speak with a supervisor at their CLE to obtain more information. Having the assistance of a community advocate can usually help with this process.

General complaints can also be directed to the Direction des plaintes et des relations avec la clientèle at any time.

Programs in Canada

Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

CPP is normally for people who have retired from working, but if a person has a medical disability, he or she may be able to receive monthly pensions before turning 65 from CPP Disability. A person must have worked in the past and paid CPP contributions (this is a standard deduction on most paychecks). The application must be accompanied by a detailed medical assessment confirming the medical condition. Often a person must appeal a negative decision for CPP disability before the application is approved.

Employment Insurance (EI)

EI is a program for people who have stopped working because they were laid off, had a baby or are too sick to work. Eligibility is based on the number of hours a person has worked, whether they have been on EI before, and what the unemployment rate is. It is usually a shorter-term program but can help while people are waiting for other programs, such as disability pensions. EI Regular Benefits can last almost a year while EI Sick Benefits generally last about 15 weeks. The amount of money a person can receive is based on a percentage of their income from their most recent job.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Many employers have employee benefits that can provide short-term disability benefits or a disability pension. Some may even have EAPs that provide counselling and financial planning. The person should enquire through the personnel or HR department. All such enquiries are kept confidential but the employee will have to disclose some personal medical information.

Revised 2014.