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Show Me The Money

Who couldn’t use a little extra cash these days? Although it’s probably more accurate to say ‘much needed’ than ‘a little extra’.

The question isn’t what do you have to do to get it, but where do you have to look to find it? There’s money out there – some of it might be yours – but it’s going to take a modern-day prospector to navigate convoluted systems for you to stake your claim.

While the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s July numbers indicate that there is almost $6 million dollars in unclaimed lottery winnings in Ontario, and the B.C. Lottery Corporation says a winning lottery ticket worth $15 million is set to expire in August; this isn’t about winnings. We’re talking about earnings, money that is owed to you that, for whatever reason, hasn’t found you.

It was reported in 2019 that the Bank of Canada is in possession of $888 million in unclaimed balances owing Canadians. That same year, Employment and Social Development Canada, which oversees federal social programs, shared that $133 million has gone unclaimed. The Canada Revenue Agency is sitting on $1 billion in unclaimed tax refunds and benefits, and it is believed that the Canada Pension Plan is holding as much as $1 billion in cumulative underpayments to Canadians.

So, where do you begin your search? How much time are you prepared to invest? And how much patience do you have to try? Now imagine the undertaking without a computer, a telephone, or government-issued photo identification.

At Haven Toronto, a downtown drop-in centre for elder men impacted by poverty and homelessness, there are new clients who, when they arrive, have no ID and no idea how to get it. This includes missing vital identification like a health card.

Without proper identification, applying for support and accessing funds, including a pension, is a non-starter.

With limited resources, the cumbersome process can be so frustrating that many clients give up trying – until they learn that they can turn to Haven Toronto counsellors for support. For almost 90 years, the drop-in centre has been helping clients find their way.

In one instance of late, a client, Mike, was at retirement age, at and beyond actually, but he didn’t know how to apply for Canada Pension or if he would even qualify. With help from Haven Toronto counsellors – experts at system navigation – his application was submitted, and a short while later, Mike learned that he would receive a small pension. That was big news.

It meant a little more money to afford a slightly larger apartment in a much safer building. Mike was living in a space about the size of a bedroom over an old, abandoned restaurant.

While he has more space, Mike still has less money than he needs to get by. He's not alone – nearly 15 percent of elderly single individuals live in poverty in Canada. That’s why Mike continues to visit Haven Toronto almost daily to partake in the centre’s healthy meals program, and to share his zest for life, infectious laugh, and hope for the future.

In a recently released 2022 Mid-Year Report, Haven Toronto shared that they have seen a 163 percent spike in the number of new clients compared to pre-pandemic numbers, that the number of elderly people who are homeless in Toronto has grown 25 percent in one year, and that 73 percent of Toronto’s homeless population are male.

Haven Toronto is the only drop-in centre in Canada dedicated to elder homeless men.




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