Authorized Federal Uses of the SIN
The collection, use, and disclosure of the Social Insurance Number (SIN) by the federal government are governed either by specific legislated uses and/or by Treasury Board policy authorization, as listed below. In addition, there are over 150 provincial/territorial Acts which mention SIN use in their texts. For more information on provincial/territorial requirements for the SIN, consult your provincial/territorial government.
Legislated Uses of the SIN
Employment Insurance (EI) Act
In accordance with the EI Act, the Canada Employment Insurance Commission is responsible for issuing SINs and for maintaining a register containing information necessary to identify applicants for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. People who have lost a job, applied for Employment Insurance or participated in employment programs administered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) or third parties, are eligible for benefits. Those who participated in services funded by HRSDC but administered by provincial or territorial governments are also entitled to EI benefits, and must provide their SIN to the appropriate administrative body.
Income Tax Act
The Income Tax Act specifies when the Social Insurance Number is required:
- when filing an annual tax return: people must provide their SIN on the return
- by employers so they can provide their employees with records of employment and T-4 slips for income tax and Canada Pension Plan purposes
- by other government agencies which use this information to provide grants, loans, or other forms of financial assistance
- when applying for the Canada Child Tax Benefit
- for banks, trust companies, caisses populaires and stock brokers which sell financial products or services that generate interest so this income may be reported to the Canada Revenue Agency.
Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan Act/ Regulations
The Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan are contributory, earnings-related social assistance programs. These programs ensure a measure of protection to the contributor and his/her family against the loss of income due to retirement, disability, or death. To be accepted into the Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan program, an applicant must provide his/her name at birth, their present name, sex, address, and SIN. Applicants may also be required to divulge their children's SIN to determine if any of the contributors ever received family-allowance payments. The SIN is required for every person working in pensionable employment in Canada. An applicant's SIN is validated to ensure their exact identification so that contributory earnings can be correctly posted on the record. This allows benefits and entitlements to be accurately calculated.
Old Age Security Act
The SIN is required when applying for Old Age Security (OAS) benefits. Most Canadians over the age of 65 receive the OAS pension. Low-income individuals may qualify for additional benefits such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement. SINs are collected to confirm the amount of Canada Pension Plan benefits, date of birth, marital status, and date of death.
Canada Student Financial Assistance Act (Canada Student Loans Regulations)
SINs are collected from people who borrowed money through the Canada Student Loans Program. The SIN is used to verify the applicant's name, gender, and date of birth in order to monitor the giving of loans and repayments; to assess eligibility for the program; and for policy, evaluation and research analysis.
Canada Education Savings Grants (Budget Implementation Act, 1998)
In order to receive a Canada Education Savings Grant, individuals must provide their SIN to allow verification of their eligibility for the Grant with the Canada Revenue Agency.
Canada Elections Act
Please consult with Elections Canada about their legislated use of the SIN.
Canadian Labour Standards Regulations (Canada Labour Code)
The Canada Labour Standard, or Canada Labour Code, governs occupational health and safety for workplaces under federal jurisdiction. The Code aims to prevent injury by protecting the health and safety of employees working within this jurisdiction. Under the Code, every employer must keep a record for each employee. The record contains the employee's full name, address, SIN, occupational classification, gender, personal work statistics, and start and end date of employment.
Labour Adjustment Benefits Act
The Labour Adjustment Benefits Program, overseen by the Labour Adjustment Review Board, provides benefits to certain employees between the ages of fifty-six and sixty-five who have lost their jobs. Applicants' SINs are collected to determine eligibility under the Employment Insurance Act, and to prevent fraud.
War Veterans Allowance Act
Veterans Affairs Canada collects the SIN of Canadian Forces veterans to determine if they are qualified for allowances under the War Veterans Allowance Act. Information is provided to federal government institutions and departments or agencies of provincial or municipal governments that require it to determine whether an individual is entitled to social or financial benefits. Information is also matched with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency to verify income levels.
Farm Income Protection Act
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada collects the SINs of Canadian Agricultural Producers who have applied for income assistance under the Farm Income Protection Act. The SIN is collected to ensure that the information supplied to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is consistent with information given to the Canada Revenue Agency for income tax purposes.
Canadian Wheat Board Act
The Canadian Wheat Board collects the SIN to establish and maintain a record of each wheat and barley grower's entitlement to market wheat and barley. The Canadian Wheat Board uses the SIN to monitor and record each grower's delivery and sale of wheat and barley. This enables the Canadian Wheat Board to verify each farmer's entitlement to cash advances under the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act.
Application for Federal Fuel Tax Rebate
The Canada Revenue Agency collects the SIN of individuals who have filed a gasoline refund claim. This provides individuals with a rebate of a portion of the federal sales tax paid on gasoline and diesel fuel purchased for off-highway use in certain activities (specified by the Excise Tax Act). It is not compulsory to provide the SIN when completing the Application for Federal Fuel Tax Rebate. The SIN is used as a government account number.
Authorized Uses of the Social Insurance Number
In addition to specific legislative uses, Treasury Board has also authorized a number of federal departments or agencies to use the Social Insurance Number to administer the following programs:
Resettlement Assistance Program
The Resettlement Assistance Program replaced the Immigration Adjustment Assistance Program in April 1998. The Resettlement Assistance Program collects the SINs of government-assisted refugees who require financial assistance and a range of immediate essential services after they arrive in Canada. The SIN is collected because some benefits provided by the program are taxable, and T-5 forms are issued each year for taxation purposes.
Income and Health Care Programs (Veterans Affairs)
Veterans Affairs Canada collects the SINs of veterans, their spouses and dependants who were or are now in receipt of benefits payable under the War Veterans Allowance Act, the Civilian War-Related Benefits Act, the Pension Act, the Flying Accidents Compensation Regulations, the Gallantry Gratuities and Annuities Order and the Halifax Relief Commission Pension Continuation Act. The SIN is used to issue benefit cheques. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada uses the SIN to determine the veteran's Old Age Security benefits. Canada Revenue Agency uses it to verify the veteran's income. The SIN is also used to process a veteran's medical claims on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
National Dose Registry for Occupational Exposures to Radiation (Health Canada)
The Radiation Protection Bureau of Health Canada collects the SINs of workers who have been exposed to radiation on the job. This enables them to maintain a registry for workers whose occupational radiation exposure has been monitored. The registry is used in statistical studies to support regulatory control of occupational radiation. It is also used to advise anyone whose maximum permissible dose of radiation has been exceeded or is about to be exceeded.
Rural and Native Housing Program (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation collects the SIN under the Rural and Native Housing Program. The SIN is used to identify patterns of loan repayment.
Social Assistance and Economic Development Program (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada)
Please consult Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) about this program's use of the SIN.
Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS)
The Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) gives Aboriginal people access to employment programs and services, youth initiatives, funding for persons with disabilities, and child care programs for First Nations and Inuit families. The SIN of program participants is collected so government can evaluate how well the programs assisted participants to obtain or keep employment, and to determine a participant's need for further assistance.
Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities
The Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities provides benefits to unemployed individuals with a permanent physical or mental disability which limits their daily activity and means they require assistance to work or to become self-employed. The SIN of program participants is collected to monitor the income of clients who are receiving benefits.
GST Tax Act and Regulations
The Goods and Services Tax (GST), or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) in some provinces/territories, is payable on most goods and services sold or provided in Canada. The GST credit helps people with low and modest incomes offset all or part of the GST they pay. Under the GST Tax Act and Regulations, individuals must provide their SIN to confirm their identity for income tax and benefit purposes, and to update their records of earnings for contributions to the Canada Pension Plan or the Quebec Pension Plan.
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