We determined the after-tax income required to fi nance basic needs for Canadian elders living with different circumstances in terms of age, gender, city of residence, household size, homeowner or renter status, means of transportation, and health status. Using 2001 as our base year, we priced the typical expenses for food, shelter, medical, transportation, miscellaneous basic living items and home-based long-term care for elders living in fi ve Canadian cities. This is the fi rst Canadian study of basic living expenses tailored to elders instead of adults in general, prepared on an absolute rather than a relative basis. We also accounted for an individual’s unique life circumstances and established the varying effect that they have on the cost of basic expenses, particularly for home care. We found that the maximum Guaranteed Income Supple ment and Old Age Security benefi t did not meet the cost of basic needs for an elder living in poor circumstances.