Step 1: Learning about benefits
Benefits promotion

Provide group information sessions


Hosting group information sessions on common benefits is a great way to help your community get comfortable with applying for benefits and provide an opportunity to ask questions and get support.

Consider inviting a relevant expert (e.g., government representative or local advocate) to present on a specific benefit.

Hosting a group session requires logistical work and coordination, including securing a host/presenter with some expertise around the benefit. You should be prepared with the following:

  • Staff time is required to identify benefits relevant to your community and to connect with local experts who can come and speak on the topic. It is also needed to organize, host, and promote the event.
  • Space, either physical space or a digital hosting resource, (e.g. Zoom) will be required to host the event. For in-person events, make sure the venue is accessible.
  • Promotion — You will need to create materials to market the event in the community and via social media. (Go to Market and promote benefits for more information.)

If this is new to your organization, here are some good ways to get started:

  • Browse the Benefits wayfinder to find benefits that are relevant to your community. For example, if you primarily serve seniors, click on the “I am a senior / retired person” Starting Point on the main page to find related benefits
  • Contact either the government benefits administrator found on the benefits webpage, or find a local organization on the Help section of the Benefits wayfinder, to invite them to present on a specific benefit
  • Start planning the event months in advance so that you have time to organize and market effectively
  • Reach out to other local community organizations to help promote your event
  • Create a marketing plan to promote the event across multiple channels, including your website, social media, flyers in your centre, community boards etc.

  • Consider having a way for attendees to register for the event in advance so that you have a better expectation of how many will attend.
  • Some attendees may be new to or have little experience with online virtual events. Consider creating some tips to help them participate, or have a walk through at the beginning of the session to help them learn to navigate the functions (raise hand, chat etc.).
  • Recognize that not everyone will want to be on camera during virtual events for personal reasons.
  • For in-person events, having some refreshments available can help encourage people to attend. Or, offering to help with transportation costs can also boost attendance.

  • The Toronto Public Library regularly hosts presentations from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) representatives who present on general tax benefits, as well as specific benefits like the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Seniors (GIS), the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), and more. These events are free to the public and are hosted at a Toronto Public Library location.
  • North York Community (NYCH) hosts group information sessions and provides snacks, transit reimbursement and Chrome books to borrow for filling out benefit applications.
  • Some organizations present these sessions via webinars, such as this series by Plan Institute. The Registered Disability Savings Plan Webinars - Plan Institute.
  • Here are some tips on How to plan a webinar.

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Best practices

Get practical tools, methods, and advice. Learn from other organizations who are already providing access to benefits services by accessing this collection of their best practices.

Best practices