If you live in Ontario and need regular prescription medications, the costs of these drugs can all start to add up. As the cost of living in Canada rises, many Ontario residents find it harder to pay for food, utilities, and other necessities. To help manage rising living costs, the provincial government instituted the new Ontario Trillium Benefit. 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.
Keep on reading to understand more about the Trillium Drug Plan and other Trillium Benefits:
What is Ontario Trillium Benefits - 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 point of the refundable tax credit is to help pay for property taxes, energy costs, and sales tax for low-to-moderate-income Ontarians.
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.
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 covered the costs for over 3,800 prescription drugs in past years but as of November 2023, it now covers nearly 4,000. 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.
We Can Help You Find Affordable Dental Coverage
Get quotes in minutes and save on the best insurance policies.Get Quotes NOW
Ontario Trillium Benefit Eligibility
In order to qualify for the OTB, you must qualify for one of the three constituent tax credits. There are also certain income qualifications that you must fulfill and, of course, you must be an Ontario resident. Here's a breakdown of the three constituent credits:
Northern Ontario Energy Credit (NOEC) Eligibility
The point of the NOEC is to pay for higher energy costs throughout the year. In order to be eligible for the NOEC, you must have a primary residence in Ontario and meet at least one of the conditions below:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a spouse or common-law partner
- Have a child who lives or has previously lived with you as parent
Potential recipients must have at least one of the following true of them in the past year:
- Paid property taxes or rent
- Lived in a long-term care facility
- Paid for your energy costs on a Northern Ontario reserve
The Northern Ontario Energy District refers to the following districts:
- Thunder Bay
- Rainy River
- Parry Sound
Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit (OEPTC) Eligibility
The OEPTC exists to help Ontarians pay for sales and property taxes for energy. Eligibility requirements for the OEPTC are exactly the same as the NOEC, except the OEPTC is available to everyone that lives in Ontario. The OEPTC also applies to anyone who lived at a private school or university residence during the previous tax year.
Ontario Sales Tax Credit (OSTC) Eligibility
The OSTC is a tax credit that reimburses low-income Ontarians for sales taxes they paid during the year. To qualify for this tax credit, you must:
- Be at least 19 years old
- Be a parent that either lives or has lived with their child
- Be married or have a common-law partner
How Much Can I Receive From the Trillium Benefit?
The amount you will receive for the OTB is the sum of how much you would receive for the three individual tax credits. Add up the value of each of the tax credits to see how much you would get under the OTB. The minimum value of the combined tax credit is at least $10.
The maximum value for the NOEC is $162 for single filers and $249 for families. The maximum value for the OEPTC for 2022 into 2023 is $1,121 for Ontarians ages 18 to 64 and $1,277 for Ontarians over 65 years old. The maximum amount if you lived in a long-term care home is $249.
The maximum value for the OSTC is up to $324, with an additional $324 for your spouse and each child under the age of 19. Note that receiving the sales tax credit will not affect goods and services taxes or harmonized sales taxes.
You also cannot receive the payment if the benefit is less than $2. If your benefit is between $2 and $9.99, the CRA will round it to the minimum $10 payment.
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 for the Ontario Trillium Benefit?
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 other two components, you need to fill out the following forms as part of your tax and benefit return: Form ON‑BEN.
There could potentially still be delays in the application process in the wake of Covid-19, therefore 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.
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 - 2023
The provincial government splits Ontario Trillium Benefit amounts into 12 payments and distributes them on the 10th of each month. Below is a quick list showing payment dates for both 2023 and previous year 2022.
- January 10
- February 10
- March 10
- April 10
- May 10
- June 9
- July 10
- August 10
- September 8
- October 10
- November 10
- December 8
Ontario Trillium Payment Dates - 2022
- January 10
- February 10
- March 10
- April 8
- May 10
- June 10
- July 8
- August 10
- September 9
- October 7
- November 10
- December 9
Trillium Drug Plan Quarters
The Trillium Drug Plan splits your deductible into four quarters of cumulative payments. Once you reach your deductible in a quarter, it costs $2 for future covered prescriptions for the remainder of the period. All unpaid deductibles from the previous quarter transfers to the deductible limit for the following quarter.
For example, if your deductible is $1,000, the deductible for each quarter is $250. Once you pay $250 during one quarter, coverage will go into effect. Deductible limits reset during the next quarter.
Quarters for the Trillium drug plan are:
- August – October
- November – January
- February – April
- May – July
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.
What is the Trillium Drug Plan?
The Trillium Drug Plan is a related benefit that provides low-income Canadians with additional funds to cover medication costs. The Trillium Drug Plan has coverage for nearly 4,000 prescription drugs and additional coverage for 450 drugs in special circumstances.
In order to be eligible for the Trillium Drug Plan, you must live in Ontario, not be on the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, have a health card, not be enrolled in health insurance that pays for 100% of prescription expenses, and spend more than 4% of your annual income on prescription drugs.
Applying for the Trillium Drug Plan
You can apply for the Trillium Drug Plan using two methods. You can find the application form online, download it, fill it out, and send it to the Ontario Ministry of Health online or via mail. You can also call the Trillium Benefits Program number and apply via phone.
Once the provincial government makes a decision on your application, it will send a notification letter. The drug program automatically renews every year, so you don’t have to keep applying for it.
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.
How Does the Trillium Drug Plan Work?
The Trillium Drug Plan starts in August and ends the subsequent July. If you apply before September 30, you can receive a rebate for eligible drugs that you bought last year. With the Trillium Drug Plan, you pay a deductible equal to 4% of your annual prescription costs before the plan takes over.
Drugs covered under the plan include several common medications, such as:
- Epinephrine injections and allergy shots
- Diabetes testing equipment
- OTC medications
- Nutrition products
- Retroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS
- Medication for palliative care
- Smoking cessation treatment and medication
The drug plan will not cover any drugs you purchase outside of the province or any drugs not on the listed index. Note that the drug plan does not cover dental care or dental prescriptions. In this case, it's wise to explore private dental care plans in Canada. This can easily be done by consulting with a company like Insurdinary who will gladly compare side by side quotes for you to find a dental plan that fits your budget.
Ontario Trillium Benefits FAQ
Below are some of the most common questions people ask about the Ontario Trillium Benefits.
Want More Information on Government Benefits?
We have other great publications.View our blog
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.