Edmonton families 'grateful' for new child benefit payments

Edmonton families are beginning to receive the new child benefit payments, which the federal government says will help lift 300,000 children out of poverty.

‘It has helped with extra costs for the children,’ says one mother

Aurora Roy-Clarke with her two children, and boyfriend Shannon Mugford. (Aurora Roy-Clarke )

Aurora Roy-Clarke got a nice boost when she checked her bank account Wednesday, noticing a $300 increase in the child benefit payments she receives.

"Our monthly amount has doubled and it has helped out with extra costs for the children, so I find it very beneficial," said Roy-Clarke.

The 25-year-old mother of two young children said the extra money will ease some financial pressures for her and her boyfriend.

"It helps with food, and diapers, because my littlest is still in diapers," said Roy-Clarke, explaining her family's only other income comes from her boyfriend's seasonal summer work.

Families with net incomes below $30,000 per year will receive the maximum amount under the new Canada Child Benefit, which has a goal of lifting 300,000 children out of poverty.

Those families earning more than $200,000 per year will see their payments eliminated.

Edmonton MP Amarjeet Sohi, the federal minister of infrastructure and communities, said the money will make a big difference to many families.

"It's tax free, very simple, and you make the determination where the money goes," Sohi said Wednesday during an event at Enoch Cree Nation, west of Edmonton. "Families make the determination, parents make the determination.

And that's the beauty of this program, it targets where the needs are the greatest."

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi said the Child Benefit is tax free and it will be up to parents to decide how to spend it. (CBC News)

The government expects the new benefit program to put more money in the pockets of nine million people.

Personal finance expert and bestselling author Bruce Sellery said families in the lower income range will see the biggest gains from the scheme.

"For many Canadian families, it's going to represent a significant increase than what you received under the old plan," said Sellery.

The extra money will be help people with day-to-day costs, he said.

Some Edmonton social agencies are already hearing about confusion over the amounts people receive, pointing out some people have reported seeing their payments go down.

Alexandria Bill who works full time and has a two-year-old daughter, said she's grateful for the extra money, though she expected it to be more than an additional $70 a month.

"I'm happy about the seventy dollars, but it still difficult to get the things we need," she said.

Bill, 23, a single parent, said the money would quickly go towards daycare for her daughter, as well as other basics like diapers.

"Anything helps but it really doesn't put a dent into things," she said.

Roy-Clarke said she'll now be able to afford extra summer activities for her kids.

Aurora Roy-Clarke said the additional money she's receiving will help cover the cost of summer activities for her children. (Aurora Roy-Clarke)

"I'm just happy that in our case it helps us quite a bit," she said. "I mean, it doubled our child subsidy every month for the next year."

The Child Benefit program is expected to cost $22.4 billion over five years.