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The Benefits wayfinder: Simplifying benefits access for Canadians
17 February 2022
As many Canadians confront the difficult financial realities of navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to help those struggling to access financial relief has never been greater. For those who are urgently seeking financial relief, benefits can be the life line to increasing income, lowering expenses, and making a positive shift in quality of life, such as improved heath, food security, housing stability and stress levels. Unfortunately, accessing government benefits can be complex, with multiple steps, causing people who are already facing stressful life circumstances, to feel daunted by the experience. The process can be exacerbated even further by language, digital, mobility, cognitive, and disability barriers. The reality is that those who need access to benefits the most, are the ones least likely to know where to start. It can feel like wading through a huge ocean of information.
To help tackle this challenge, Prosper Canada recently announced the launch of the
, a free online tool that simplifies the search for government benefits for people seeking ways to boost their incomes and/or reduce their expenses. Sponsored by TD Bank Group and supported by the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security, the bilingual tool is easy to use, plain language and provides customized benefit recommendations based on the life circumstances of each user.
, there are over 300 federal, provincial, and territorial government benefits included in the tool. These benefits are updated on an ongoing basis as new information becomes available.
The Benefits wayfinder lets people decide how they want to search for benefits by providing four different ways to search:
“Starting points” generates a quick list of suggested benefits for people that fall into a special group or life phase (e.g. newcomer, lost my job)
Completing a short questionnaire provides a list of personalized benefits
Browsing all benefits lets people search for benefits they already know about
Selecting benefits they are already receiving lets people explore related benefits which require them as a prerequisite
These search options allow users to generate a list of key benefits that can create financial stability if they’re eligible and apply.
“It’s extremely important for anyone to access [the Benefits wayfinder]… there are so many things out there that are available that people don’t know about.” - Frontline worker
“It’s like a rat race, lines are busy; they don’t explain to you how to navigate the system… now I’m a master!” – One user describing the feeling of empowerment after using the tool
Anyone can use this tool; you do not need to be a benefit expert to navigate the Benefits wayfinder, however it can be a valuable aid to help frontline workers guide their clients through their search for benefits.
The Benefits wayfinder is supported by the following organizations who have partnered with Prosper Canada as Benefit Navigator Champions (BNC’s) to help with sharing, training, and supporting others to use the tool:
l'ACEF du Sud-Ouest de Montréal (Québec)
Family Service of Greater Vancouver (British Columbia)
North York Community Services (Ontario)
Thunder Bay Counselling (Ontario)
Community Financial Counselling Services
The BNC’s role will be to provide:
Maintenance, improvement, and evaluation
Review and help to maintain federal and designated provincial or territorial benefits content to ensure accuracy and relevance
Suggest additional benefits or features to include on the site for improved user experience
Support with data-collection and evaluation efforts to measure the impact of the Benefits wayfinder and its role in benefits navigation services to inform tool improvement
Promotion and advocacy
Actively promote and support the use of the Benefits wayfinder by individuals living on low incomes and frontline service delivery organizations across their regions
Support cross-promotion efforts of the Benefits wayfinder within their region.
Advocate for Benefits wayfinder adoption within their organization and network.
Training and capacity building
Identify, train, and support organizations integrate the Benefits wayfinder into their existing program delivery
Participate in a BNC community of practice (CoP) led by Prosper Canada
Now that the Benefits wayfinder has launched we will gather learnings on how people are using the tool to inform future improvements. We can learn, how broad the reach of the tool is, in terms of provincial and territorial use as well as urban and rural uptake. What kinds of situations are people using the Benefits wayfinder in? Which benefits are most visited and the external sites most often used to access benefit application pages? We have also provided a
“Share this tool”
button so that organizations can embed the link on their own websites. We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for organizations to utilize and share this valuable tool in order to combat the sheer complexity of the benefit processes, navigating a way through the often frustrating and isolating experience.
We are thrilled with the support, feedback and excitement we are hearing from many of our frontline partners. If you would like to learn how to use the Benefits wayfinder to support your clients, watch our recent webinar Helping Canadians access benefits: An introduction to the Benefits wayfinder (Available in