PEI

New Canada Child Benefit will help P.E.I. families, say advocacy groups

Advocacy groups across P.E.I. say the new Canada Child Benefit will be a big help for many Island families when it rolls out across the country next week.

Child poverty and women’s advocates say benefit will especially help single parent families

More families across Canada are expected to benefit from the new Canada Child Benefit. (CP Image)

Advocacy groups across P.E.I. say the new Canada Child Benefit will be a big help for many Island families when it rolls out across the country next week. 

The federal government claims the new system will benefit 90 per cent of Canadian families, with middle and low income households benefiting the most.

The Canada Child Benefit replaces the Universal Child Care Benefit, and the Canada Child Tax Credit.

Mary Boyd, coordinator of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice in Charlottetown said the new Canada Child Benefit could have a big impact on reducing the levels of child poverty.
Mary Boyd, coordinator of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice in Charlottetown says the benefit will help reduce levels of child poverty. (CBC)

"The former benefits or tax credits and other child programs that existed were taxable for one thing, and they were not very big. So this is huge, you know. If a single mother in poverty is working, this will lift her out of poverty," said Boyd.

Finance Canada says the CCB will lift 300,000 children out of poverty, compared with 2014-15 figures. It is estimated families with less than $30,000 in annual net income will receive these maximum yearly benefits:

  • $6,400 per child under the age of six.
  • $5,400 per child aged six through 17. 
  • An additional $2,730 per child eligible for the disability tax credit.

In November 2015, the rate of child poverty in P.E.I. was over 18 per cent. That's according to statistics from Campaign 2000, a coalition of 120 organizations that work to end poverty.

Boyd emphasized that the Canada Child Benefit won't eradicate child poverty, but she said it's a good start.

"There's a long way to go, but even the rest of the families that won't be taken out of poverty will be relieved from the depth of their poverty," said Boyd.

Good for women

Jane Ledwell, executive director of the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women, is also happy about the new benefit.

Jane Ledwell, executive director of the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women says single parent families will be helped by the new benefit. (CBC)
"We know that lone parent families, the vast majority of which are headed by women, are some of the poorest in our society," said Ledwell.

Ledwell said she herself has kids, and has a single-income household.

"As anyone living on one income on P.E.I. knows, it can be really challenging, and every little bit helps," said Ledwell.

Ledwell noted, however, that since the benefit will be based on the previous year's income, some families who need extra assistance might not get it.  

"You can imagine that affecting, for instance, people on parental leave," said Ledwell.

"That variability is always going to be a challenge. You know, perhaps in the future they would look at a mid-year intake, or a reassessment process that would allow people who have a major change in their income to receive benefits that they need to keep their families healthy and well."

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