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MPs unanimously vote to temporarily double GST rebate to help Canadians with lower income

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MPs unanimously passed legislation to help temporarily provide targeted tax relief to low and modest income Canadians on Thursday – meaning the bill will now be sent to the Senate for further approval.

Known as Bill C-30 and aimed to help Canadians cope with high inflation, once the legislation officially becomes law, those eligible for the GST rebate in Canada will receive a lump-sum payment equivalent to the rebates that will be sent in October and January.

“We used a pipe that already existed in Canada to help the most vulnerable: the GST tax credit,” Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said Thursday while speaking on the bill at the Senate Committee.

“This relief is really needed by people. That’s why I am very grateful to all the MPs in the House of Commons who decided to support the measure,” added Freeland, who sponsored the bill.

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The enactment amends the Income Tax Act in order to double the Goods and Sales Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit for six months. This would increase the maximum GST/HST credit amounts by 50 per cent for the 2022-2023 benefit year, the bill says.

The maximum increase will be $467 for single individuals without children, $612 for single parents or married and common-law couples, and $161 for every child under the age of 19.

“We believe that right now we need to strike a balance – a balance between fiscal responsibility and compassion,” said Freeland.

“We knew that people needed some support with elevated inflation.”

During the Senate Committee meeting, Sen. Dennis Glen Patterson asked if the government would consider putting in measures to provide accessible services to help encourage unilingual Canadians to file their taxes, specifically speaking of the Indigenous residents he represents. Patterson also noted lower income families are less likely to file their taxes.

Freeland agreed that there is a “significant downside” to the relief and said Patterson’s question was “duly noted.”

The first reading of the relief bill was completed on Sept. 20 in the House of Commons. Once the bill receives royal assent, it is expected to take three to four weeks for the payments to go out, according to the government.

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The parliamentary budget officer says in an analysis the boosted GST rebates will cost $2.6 billion and will send money to more than 11 million Canadians.

“Bill C-30 addresses the cost of living for many Canadians by looking at targeted relief programs,” Yvonne Jones, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the Minister of Northern Affairs, said in the House of Commons during the third reading of the bill on Oct. 5.

“We know on this side of the House that Canadians are having a difficult time right now. Many of them are certainly feeling the rising cost of living, no matter where they live in this country,” she said.

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Meanwhile, Michelle Ferreri, Conservative MP for Peterborough–Kawartha, called the bill “another one of the Liberal government’s attempts at a flashy headline that would do nothing to address the core issues when it comes to our affordability crisis in this country.”

The Conservatives first came out against the GST proposal but have since supported it.

The measure is part of a set of three new policies the Liberal government proposed last month to help the country deal with the rising cost of living.

A new dental care benefit for those under 12 from low and modest-income families, and a one-time $500 housing rental allowance for low-income renters are the other two.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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