Liberal ministers to visit ridings to tout new child benefit
Children put up their hands for ice cream at a daycare centre in Montreal on Friday, Aug. 18, 2006. (The Canadian Press/Ian Barrett)
Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, July 15, 2016 4:25PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 15, 2016 4:37PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Federal cabinet ministers are set to fan out into their ridings next week as part of a push by the Liberal government to sell its new child benefit just before payments hit bank accounts and mailboxes.
The riding events go hand-in-hand with an online push by Liberal MPs who have been tweeting links to an online benefits calculator so families know how much they can expect to receive, along with pictures of cartoon families who come out ahead under the new plan.
The push is in response to MPs and federal workers who have been swamped with questions about when the money will show up -- July 20.
They are also hoping to take the sting out of messages from the Opposition Conservatives that many middle-income families will get less overall because of tax changes accompanying the introduction of the new child benefit, like the elimination of the child tax benefit and other so-called "boutique" tax credits, as well as the government's push for an increase in Canada Pension Plan premiums to fund higher benefits later on.
The government says nine out of 10 families will receive more money under their plan, which replaces the universal child care benefit payments that all families received. Those households with a combined, before-tax family income of $150,000 or more will receive less under the Canada child benefit.
The $23-billion program was a cornerstone promise in the Liberals' election platform.
The non-taxable benefit is income tested, unlike the monthly universal child care benefits the previous Conservative government handed out for a decade.
The federal minister in charge of the program has billed the benefit as the most significant social program the federal government has embarked upon in generations.
The Liberals expects that the move will lift 300,000 children out of poverty by boosting their families' income above the low-income measure. Nowhere will that be felt more than in Manitoba where the government calculates that more than half the children living in poverty -- 52 per cent -- will move above the low-income measure.
The benefit won't count as income federally and provinces have agreed not to count the new money against any income-tested benefits that provincial governments deliver.
Conservative families critic Karen Vecchio said the changes the Liberals have brought in will help low-income earners, but middle-income earners will find they have less money in their pockets at the end of the year.
"It's a great marketing ploy, but it's not actually going to have the benefit that we see," she said.
"There are going to be a lot of people on July 20th that sit there and say, 'where's my money?"'
Vecchio said the Liberals are putting too much faith in the child benefit being a panacea for any financial woes families face instead of focusing on ways to promote private sector job growth.
"When you're looking at the child benefit, it's supposed to be that thing to fix the missing link and what this government's doing is they're making it as a sole approach that the child benefit is good for everything," she said.