Hailed as “the most significant social policy innovation in a generation” by federal Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, the new Canada Child Benefit plan formally introduced in the budget kicks in this July.
The program essentially replaces the blunt, one-size-fits-all payments the Conservatives made to Canadian families with children under 18 years old with a means-tested approach that redistributes more money to households with lower incomes (in some cases substantially), and less to ones with higher incomes.
“Child benefit payments get fattened meaningfully in the low-to-middle income range at the expense of those in the middle-to-upper income ranges,” BMO economists Doug Porter and Robert Kavcic said.
“It will lift hundreds of thousands of kids up from poverty,” Morneau asserted Tuesday in his speech to the Commons.
Families with children under age six will receive an annual tax-free benefit of up to $6,400 per child. Those with children between the ages of six and 17 will receive up to $5,400 annually. Households with children with annual income below $30,000 will receive the maximum payment.
The new program, coming into effect July 1, rolls three former benefit plans introduced by the Conservatives, including the Universal Child Care Benefit and the income-splitting scheme for two-parent households, into a single monthly payment.
The program, which was praised by anti-poverty groups, will cost taxpayers $22.4 billion more than the previous government’s child benefit schemes, or $4.5 billion each year.
“That is money in the pockets of Mom and Dad,” Morneau said. “Money that can go directly to eating healthier food, paying the rent and buying new clothes for back to school.”
To find out exactly how much child benefits payments from Ottawa will change for your family, the Liberals have published a calculator that will show you: