The countries new federal budget will bring some big changes for Canadian families, one of the most significant being the creation of the Canada Child Benefit Program.
It will see parents get cash benefits of up to $6,400 annually for children under the age of six. Parents of children aged six to 17 could be eligible for up to $5,400 each year, but the benefits will be gradually reduced depending on family income. Once household income hits $30,000, the benefits start to be clawed back.
Scott Brison, president of the Treasury Board, says the benefit is good news for 300,000 Canadian children.
“It’s simpler, it’s fairer, its tax free and it benefits the families who really need the help the most,” Brison said.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the program comes with some give and take.
“On one hand, the government is giving you this new, shiny tax credit that for some Maritimers will deliver a big benefit — but for others, it’s just treading water,” said federation spokesperson Kevin Lacey.
The Liberals also announced they will be phasing out tax credits for children’s fitness and arts. That’s something that had been part of the Universal Child Care Benefit — which was introduced under the previous Conservative government and open to almost everyone — whether your household income was $25,000 or $100,000.
The credits will be cut in half this year and eliminated by 2017. That change is being met with concern from some parents.
“Kids, they need exercise and stuff and where I am home schooling that would have really been a benefit to that so it’s kind of, I don’t know, a loss for me,” said Katelyn Polley, a single mother in Halifax.
Other parents of young children are hopeful that the changes will mean something positive for low-income families.
“We could really use the extra money, especially for activities,” said Zoe Houlton, a mother of two young boys.
“I’m hoping if we can get a little extra, it will compensate for the credits for the arts and fitness that are being taken away.”
Premier Stephen McNeil says the changes in the federal budget essentially mean Nova Scotian families will be given the money up front and can then determine what they invest in.
“Every time there’s an adjustment of course people who are receiving it will see some change, but I think overall this is the right message that families raising children will have access to more money,” McNeil said.
You can find out how much you are eligible under the Canada Child Benefit Program by using the calculator here.
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