Learner Policy & Procedures

Published Date: November 17, 2017
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Financial Benefits Decision

Income – General

Non-Exempt and Partially Exempt Income

AUTHORITY

Income Support, Training and Health Benefits (ISTHB) Regulation, Section 50 (1), (3), (4) and (6)
ISTHB Regulation, Section 99(a)-(b)
ISTHB Regulation, Schedule 2, Section 1(1)(b), (p),(g), (u)
MO-2016-08 Full-Time Learners: Schedules 1, 2, 3 and 4 (Labour)
MO 304/2017 Full-Time Learners: Schedules 1, 2, 3 and 4 (Advanced Education)

INTENT

Training is a joint responsibility between government, the learner, and the learner’s spouse/partner. Where possible, learners are to contribute as much as possible financially to their training. However, certain types of income are fully or partially exempt to ensure that:

  • learners have incentives to earn money from employment
  • learners get the benefit of specific federal and provincial financial supports available to other Canadians
  • learners may have some resources they can use to purchase items that are not available through income support
  • dependant children are encouraged to accumulate savings for their future.

POLICY

Aboriginal Funds (e.g., Band or AHRDA Funds)

  • The actual amount received is considered income.
  • There is no exemption for this income.

Awaiting Funds

  • Learners awaiting funds from Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), injury damages or Canada Pension Plan, must sign a Repayment Agreement before the financial assessment is completed and any funds issued. Money received in these circumstances has no exemption applied.
  • There is no exemption for this income.

Award or Prize (including scholarships or bursaries)

  • The amount received in recognition of outstanding academic or community achievement is considered as income less an exemption of $3,500 per person per academic year.

     

  • This maximum rate is determined by the Minister.

Child Support

  • The actual amount received for support of a child who is a member of the household is considered income.
  • There is no exemption for this income.

Note
Child Support is defined by its source (i.e. payment by the other parent, an estate, Maintenance Enforcement Program or the courts) and the reason it is received (for the care of a child or adult) rather than the method of payment (e.g. cash, cheque, money order, goods, services, or other valuables).

Amounts received for arrears of child support are 100% exempt if payments were:

  • owed for a period of time that the learner was not receiving income support, and
  • paid to the learner through the Maintenance Enforcement Program.

Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits

  • The first $100 of regular EI benefits received each month, or portion of a month, while the learner is attending training, is considered exempt income.
  • There is no exemption on EI benefits received by the spouse/partner of a learner.
Note
Income received from EI benefits is based on the formula: Net EI Benefit = Gross Benefit minus Income Tax (according to standard deduction tables).

Gifts

  • Non-recurring gifts under $900 per calendar year per household member are exempt. Gifts include per capita disbursements (PCD) payments to First Nations members.

First Nations

  • A payment of a non-recurring nature received from a First Nation this is paid equally to each member on the First Nation band list.

    Note
    This does not include a per capita distribution resulting from specific claims (surrenders).
  • Payments under an agreement between a First Nation and Her Majesty in Right of Canada with respect to a Specific Claim (Surrender), as specifically approved from time to time by the Minister.

Rationale

Allows the Minister to exempt specific claim settlements from time to time. Directives are used to notify workers when these payments are made and are specifically exempt.  

Income Deducted at Source to Repay Other Programs

  • ISTHB Regulation, Section 50(3)(b)(ii) only applies to garnishee orders on employment income for the first month the garnishment is in effect. However, a learner's spouse/partner and/or a dependent child who is living in the learner's household and not attending school may have other automatic deductions from income (e.g., buying back a portion of their pension, overpayments, etc.) from a source like:

    • Employment Insurance
    • Workers Compensation
    • Canada Pension Plan
    • Quebec Pension Plan
  • For one month only, the amount the learner’s spouse/partner and/or dependent child actually receives from an income source is counted as income. After that month, the amount that is withheld is also counted as income received.

 

Rationale
The one-month grace period allows time to negotiate with the creditor to attempt to have the repayment suspended during their training period, or at least have the monthly deduction lowered.
In the second and all subsequent months, the amount of income before automatic deduction is counted, whether the automatic deduction is lowered or not.

Other Income (including Orphan’s Benefits)

  • The actual amount received (usually on a monthly basis) is considered income.
  • There is no exemption for this income.

Rental Property Income

  • Gross rental income received from the learner’s primary residence is 50% exempt.
  • Gross rental income from a property that is not the learner’s primary residence is not eligible for an exemption.
Note
Staff must determine that a rental situation exists before applying the above policy. Situations may occur where a learner collects rent from roommates to forward a lump sum payment to a landlord and does not financially gain from the situation. In these cases, the money collected is not considered income and is not used in determining eligibility for Income Support because the learner does not have discretion to use the money for a purpose other than paying the roommates’ portion of the rent.

Retroactive Canada Child Benefit Payment from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

A Canada Child Benefit lump sum payment from CRA is 100% exempt. However, if the learner chose to receive a Temporary Child Supplement Allowance (NCBS Temporary Replacement Benefit), they must repay the Government of Alberta the lesser of:

  • the actual amount received from CRA, or
  • the amount of the Temporary Child Supplement Allowance that was issued.

Room and Board Income

  • Gross income received from a room and board arrangement in the learner’s primary residence is 75% exempt.

Employment Earnings

Learner

Spouse/Partner

  • The first $230 per month of net employment income plus 25% of remaining net employment income is exempt.

 

Dependants

  • for each dependent child in the learner household who is not attending school, the first $350 per month of net employment income plus 25% of remaining net employment income is exempt.
  • for each dependent child in the learner household who is attending school, 100% of net employment income is exempt.
Note
  • Net employment earnings is based on the formula: Net Pay=Gross Pay minus Income Tax (according to standard deduction tables), Employment Insurance (EI), Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and any deduction required by an employer as a condition of employment (e.g., company pension plan contributions, union dues).
  • Some employers add the legally-required vacation pay to the worker’s wages/salary. Others give the employee vacation with pay. In either case, vacation pay is employment income, and is eligible for the earnings exemption.

Earnings in Kind

  • Any goods and services received as payment for employment or part of gross self-employment income are considered employment income.

Garnishee-Employment Income

  • When a creditor garnishees a debtor’s employment income, part of the income is withheld at source and paid to the creditor. LISO allows the first payment on each garnishee as a deduction when calculating a Learner’s spouse/partner and/or a dependent child’s net employment income. 
  • LISO informs the learner that all other payments on the garnishee order will be counted as income received. The one-time deduction gives the learner’s spouse/partner and/or dependent child who is living in the learner’s household and not attending school, time to apply to the creditor to vary the garnishee order (i.e., reduce the amount withheld).
Note
This is separate from Income
Deducted at Source to Repay Other Programs.

Self-Employment Income 

Home Business and Farm

  • All net self-employment income (including all income earned from a home-based business) is deducted dollar for dollar from program benefits, with the following exceptions:

 

Home-Based Business – Child Care

 

  • Where the adult member of a household unit provides child care in their home, the first $230 plus 25% of the remainder of monthly income is exempt.

 

Home Based Business – Dependent Child

  • The first $350 plus 25% of remaining income per month is exempted for each dependent child not attending school and operating a home based business.
  • Income is 100% exempt for each dependent child who is attending school and operating a home based
Note
Self-employed learners and spouse/partners are allowed to deduct specified expenses from gross self-employment income to calculate net self-employment income. These deductible self-employment expenses are detailed in the
Expected to Work/Barriers to Full Employment Self-Employment Income policy. The Net Self-Employment Income
form is available to help.

Learner in Self-Employment Training Program

While a learner is enrolled in an approved self-employment training program, income related to that business is 100% exempt (ISTHB Regulation, Section 50(4)(b)(i)).

Spousal/Partner Support

  • Actual amount received is considered income
  • There is no exemption

Windfall

If, during the funded period of training, the learner or spouse/partner receives a windfall of any value (e.g., lottery or bingo winning), the total value of the windfall is deducted, dollar for dollar, from income support benefits.

PROCEDURE

The learner must report changes by submitting a Change in Circumstances form as soon as possible after income is received.

APPROVAL

Learner Benefit Coordinator, Learner Income Support Office