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Nunavut looks at exempting low-income family tax credit

The Government of Nunavut is considering changes to the way a federal tax credit affects low-income families.

Government looks at exempting National Child Benefit Supplement, currently used for social programs

Brandon Grant, the executive director of family services, says the territory needs to make sure the National Child Benefit Supplement won't contribute towards the welfare wall before making changes to the way it's distributed in the territory. (CBC)

The Government of Nunavut is considering changes to the way a federal tax credit affects low-income families.

Unlike the recently increased Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS)  is a federal child tax credit specifically targeted to low-income families.

Since 2006, the Universal Child Care Benefit has flowed straight to all families in Nunavut, with the territory not deducting any of the tax credit for their own social programs.

But up until now, the Government of Nunavut chose to deduct the NCBS from families on income assistance, reinvesting the money into territorial programs for families instead of giving the supplement to them directly. 

The proposed change would mean that low-income families directly receive the supplement.

Before they recommend the change, however, the territory's department of family services says they must make sure the exemption won't contribute towards the welfare wall.

"If you're increasing the amount of income, you have to make sure that you're not going to harm families by pushing them out of eligibility for other programs," said Brandon Grant, the Executive Director of Family Services.

According to Grant, once the territory's analysis is complete, the changes would still require cabinet approval.

If these change is approved, Nunavut will become the first territory to exempt the NCBS.

Examining how the supplement is distributed is part of an ongoing large-scale review of social services in Nunavut, according to Grant.

"We're going to do a public engagement campaign this fall, and go to each community in Nunavut to find out how we can improve the social assistance program," he said.

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