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 Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP)

In Saskatchewan, the Department of Social Services provides the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) to people who require financial support to pay for basic necessities such as food, rent, clothing and medicine. The amount of money a person can receive from SAP depends on their household income, where they live in the province and the size of their family. Additional financial benefits and services—such as health coverage, housing assistance, utility and food allowances, child-care subsidies, training and employment services—are also available to eligible SAP applicants. People can discuss their needs with their case worker when they apply for SAP to see if they are eligible to receive additional benefits.

To apply for SAP, people can call the Social Services Contact Centre at 1-866-221-5200 or at 1-866-995-0099 for TTY.  People can also visit their local Service Centre for more information.

Several programs are also available for SAP clients who may require employment services to train for a job or to find work. People can discuss their employment needs with their case workers to see if there is a program that can assist them.

Income Support for People with Disabilities

The Income Support for People with Disabilities program provides income support to people with severe and long-term disabilities. People living with chronic hepatitis C who require support may qualify. These benefits provide support for basic needs, including food, shelter and clothing; disability needs, including transportation and special dietary and clothing needs; and supplementary health benefits. The program offers clients the same amount of money as SAP, however, the rules and regulations are slightly different in order to meet the unique needs of people with disabilities. 

If a person disagrees with a decision about their SAP application, they can file an appeal to have their case reviewed. Having the assistance of a community advocate can usually help with this process.

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.