Resource Guide for Family Caregivers
Provincial government services

Senior’s Supplement

The Seniors Supplement provides a guaranteed monthly income for BC residents who receive the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement as well as an Old Age Security pension or the Spouse’s Allowance.

You will automatically receive the Seniors Supplement from the Ministry of Finance if you qualify. The amount you receive depends on your income. For example, if you are a single person and have no income other than OAS/ GIS, you may be eligible for the maximum Seniors Supplement for a single person.

People living outside the province of  British Columbia are not eligible for the Seniors Supplement.

British Columbia Sales Tax Credit

The BC Sales Tax Credit is available to persons with low or modest incomes. You claim the credit by completing the T1C British Columbia Tax Credits form when filing your income tax return. If you are married, you and your spouse must decide which one of you will claim the credit for both of you. (Spouse includes common-law spouse.)

Medical Services Plan

The Medical Services Plan of British Columbia (MSP) offers basic medical coverage to British Columbians. If you are 65 or over and enrolled in MSP, you will automatically receive a gold CareCard. Your gold CareCard is useful as proof of age and residence for discounts offered by certain government programs and many businesses (for example, BC Ferry Corporation).


Effective 2003, the BC government changed its Pharmacare policy. If you are 65 years or older, you are eligible for a subsidy for prescription drugs following an income test. Maximum amounts for assistance are predetermined. Once these maximum amounts have been reached, the province will continue to cover 100 per cent of eligible drug costs and dispensing fees.

When you present a prescription with your gold CareCard, the pharmacist will bill Pharmacare directly for drugs covered by the Pharmacare plan. PharmaNet keeps track of how much you pay during the year and when you reach the predetermined limit in dispensing fees, advises the pharmacist not to charge you the fee. The plan does not cover non- prescription drugs and vitamins.

Pharmacare pays the cost of prescription drugs and dispensing fees for persons living in a government-funded facility. The Home Oxygen Program, which Pharmacare used to cover, is now a Regional Health Authority responsibility. Check with your Regional Health Authority to find out if the monthly payment for oxygen is still covered.

Some prescriptions may be included under the Low Cost Alternative or Reference Drug programs. These programs limit the amount that Pharmacare will pay for certain drugs by substituting less costly, but equally effective, treatments.

Changes to supplementary health care benefits means that physiotherapy, chiropractic, naturopathic, massage and non- surgical podiatry services are only available to:

  • Income Assistance recipients
  • Convention refugees
  • Inmates of BC Correctional facilities
  • Individuals enrolled with MSP through the At Home Program
  • Residents of long-term care facilities receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement
  • Individuals enrolled with MSP as Mental Health Patients
  • First Nations individuals with valid BC Medical Plan coverage through the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada

MSP will pay a portion to the practitioner towards the cost of each visit, and patients will have to pay the difference.

Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER)

Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) provides direct cash assistance to eligible residents of B.C. age 60 and over who pay rent. To be eligible, applicants must satisfy the following conditions:

  • be a renter;
  • be either 65 years or over and entitled to receive Canadian Old Age Security, or
  • be age 60 to 64 and a resident of Canada for a period of one year as an adult;
  • be a resident of B.C., or have a spouse who was a resident of B.C., for one year immediately before applying; and, be paying more than 30 per cent of total income for rent.

1 Taken from Government of British Columbia web site: