Offset High Prescription Drug Costs with The Trillium Drug Program

Posted on February 12, 2021

If you live in Ontario and need regular prescription medications, the costs of these drugs can all start to add up. No one should be forced to struggle to pay for the medications they need to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This is where the Trillium Drug Plan can help.

The Trillium Drug Plan was devised to help Ontario residents pay for their often-expensive medications. People must meet certain criteria to be eligible, based on their income.

The Ontario Trillium Benefit - Explained

The OTB is the combined payment of three credits: the Ontario energy and property tax credit, the Northern Ontario energy credit, and the Ontario sales tax credit. These three credits are combined annually, then divided by 12 into regular monthly payouts.

The Canadian government considers anyone earning in the bottom half of the median wages to be low income. In day-to-day terms, this will often mean anyone who cannot afford food, shelter, or other living essentials.

How to Qualify for the OTB

To qualify for the Ontario Trillium Benefit, you must qualify for all three of the Ontario credits above. There are also certain income qualifications that you must fulfill and, of course, you must be an Ontario resident.

The maximum income for people applying to the OTB depends on their eligibility for each of the three Ontario credits. Your eligibility will be calculated based on your household income, so it's important to know who counts as part of your household.

Your spouse will count if you have lived together for over a year, have children together, or have entered into a cohabitation agreement together. They will also count if they live in a long-term care home or live in another province or outside of Canada.

If you have children that still live with you or are still financially dependent on you, they will also count. Any parents or grandparents that are financially dependent on you will also be counted as part of your household.

It's important to factor in the incomes of any of these people. They will all be included when your eligibility for the OTB is determined.

How to Apply

Applying for the OTB requires that you file your income tax and benefit return for the previous year. There are different application procedures for each credit component of the OTB.

For the first component, the Ontario sales tax credit, you do not need to apply directly. The CRA will use the information from your tax and benefit return from the year before to determine your eligibility and entitlement.

For the other two components, you need to fill out the following forms as part of your tax and benefit return: Form ON‑BEN, Application for the 2020 Ontario Trillium Benefit, and Ontario Senior Homeowners' Property Tax Grant. Only fill out the areas that apply to your circumstances.

OTB Notice - How the Ontario Trillium Benefit is Paid Out

The OTB notice refers to how your benefits will be calculated and paid out. Your OTB is calculated according to how much you would receive for each of the individual Ontario credits mentioned above.

As noted above, your household income is what your OTB will be calculated from. Your annual amount is then divided by 12 and paid out to you each month. You will receive your OTB payments from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), who pay on behalf of the Ontario provincial government.

If you receive a benefits overpayment, it's possible that you could have an Ontario Trillium benefit amount owing. If that is the case, then you will be alerted by the CRA and will be able to set up a re-payment plan.

Ontario Trillium Payment Dates - 2021

Anyone eligible for Ontario Trillium Benefits will receive their payments mostly on the 19th or 20th of each month. The exception for 2021 is in December, when the Trillium payment dates are earlier, on the 13th. You can find a full list of the payment dates for 2021 on the CRA website.

What is Canada Pro?

Canada Pro refers to the OTB but is also used to describe similar programs in other provinces across Canada. When you receive your OTB payments, it may show up as Canada Pro on your bank statement.

The eligibility for Canada Pro is much the same as for the OTB. It's designed to help low-income families in Canada pay for their living essentials. It's paid each month, often around the middle of the month.

Families can expect to receive around $120 a month, with single people often receiving between $40 and $65.

Trillium Drug Plan

The Trillium Drug Program is another similar program designed to help low-income people living in Ontario. For this drug plan, however, the aim is specifically to help people with the costs of their medications.

The plan covers the costs for over 3,800 prescription drugs. It will also cover more than 450 limited-used drugs under certain conditions.

To be eligible for the Trillium Drug Plan, you must live in Ontario, have a valid Ontario health card, not already qualify for the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, not have an insurance plan that covers 100% of your medication costs, and spend 4% of your income or more on medications.

How to Apply for the Trillium Drug Plan

Especially during COVID-19, it can take a few months to get approved for the Trillium Drug Program. However, if you apply before September 30, you can get reimbursed for any medications you bought in the previous program year. The program cycle runs from August 30 to July 1.

There are two ways to apply for Trillium benefits. The first is by downloading the online application form and sending it to:

Trillium Drug Program, Ministry of Health, P.O. Box 337 Station D, Etobicoke ON M9A 4X3.

The second is by phoning the Ontario Trillium Benefits Phone Number on 1-800-575-5386 (toll-free), 1-800-387-5559 (TTY), or 416-642-3038 (in the Toronto area).

You will receive a confirmation letter when your application has been confirmed. This will tell you your deductible (how much you are owed). From now on, the plan will renew automatically each year.

What Does the Trillium Drug Plan Cover?

As well as prescription drugs, in some cases, Trillium will also cover certain allergy medication, diabetes care, over-the-counter drugs, and nutrition products. However,  Trillium does not cover dental care. If you need help covering these costs, it's wise to get quotes on health and dental insurance.

To receive the benefits of the Trillium Drug Program, you will receive a Trillium Drug Program application signature request. That means you will need to sign a form to confirm your application.

If you need to remove a household member, you can do so by writing to the Trillium Drug Plan at the same mailing address you sent your application to, explaining any changes to your circumstances. The same applies to any changes in your income or anything else that may affect your eligibility.

Looking For Other Ways to Save Money on Essential Costs?

The OTB, Canada Pro, and the Trillium Drug Plan can all help you to save money for your essential living costs. No one should have to struggle to afford their basic essentials, such as energy, food, or medications. 

If you want to find some more ways to save money on your essential costs, then Insurdinary might be able to help. We are a top rated financial comparison platform and can provide advice on everything from insurance quotes, to loans to the best banks in Canada.

To make sure you don't pay more than you need to for life's essentials, use the resources and expertise of Insurdinary. We're here to help you make your money go further.

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