CANADA: Canada’s new Child Benefit grows towards universality and basic needs coverage
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recently announced a revamped Child Benefit program, as reported by Tania Kohut on Canada Global News. This new program replaces the Canada Child Tax Benefit, Universal Child Care Benefit and income splitting.
According to Trudeau’s government, this new program will cover nine out of ten families with children, and will be targeted to disburse more money to low-income families than to higher income ones. The increase in child benefits will be as much as 64% for some families, since they will be eligible for up to 6400 CAN$ per year per child under six years old, and up to 5400 CAN$ per child up to seventeen years old (values on average). This is comparison to an average of 3600 CAN$ per year in previous years.
The new Child Benefit program will represent about 18% of the Canadian median income, and 58% of the poverty line (as defined by the top income of those living in poverty according to Canada Without Poverty). The program is almost universal in giving out benefits to families with children, although it is designed more like a negative income tax than a universal basic income, since the benefit value gets automatically reduced with increasing income. This, according to Trudeau, will lift about 300 000 children out of poverty, in Canada.
Like previous child benefit programs, the new grant is conditional in nature – taking into account household income and the number and age of children. However, it has been enlarged in value and in population coverage, which are definitely steps towards universality and covering basic needs. In this respect, this social security policy revamp is in line with all recent developments in Canada, which has seen increasing interest and support for social policies like basic income. Trudeau’s government and Canada’s regional authorities (especially in Ontario) are consistently showing signs of eagerness to change the social security paradigm in Canada, through both enlarging and expanding conditional benefits and preparing experiments with basic income.
More information at:
Tania Kohut, “Canada Child Benefit: Everything you need to know“, Global News, July 19th 2016
Statistics Canada, “Individuals by total income level, by province and territory”, July 2016