Archived - The National Child Benefit: Fighting Child Poverty

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Fighting Child Poverty

Child poverty is a problem that all Canadian governments1 face, and it is one that we must face together. Through the National Child Benefit, we are helping disadvantaged Canadian children and their parents realize a better standard of living by providing them with improved benefits and services.

--Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Social Services

How the National Child Benefit Will Help Children in Poverty

Too many Canadian children live in poverty, a situation that puts them at risk of experiencing problems that can last a lifetime. While many children from low income families grow up and out of poverty, some people who begin as disadvantaged children never realize their full potential.

The National Child Benefit (NCB) is a commitment to help these children. It is an innovative and progressive new initiative that will give them a better start in life by improving benefits and services for their families, and by helping their parents enter the workforce so they can better meet the needs of their children.

The Government of Canada is also committed to ensuring that First Nations' children on reserve benefit from the NCB like all other Canadian children in low-income families.

Investing in Canada's Children

Starting in July 1998, the NCB will provide more consistent support to low-income families with children across Canada through an enhanced Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). For example, the new CCTB can mean up to $3,050 per year for an eligible low-income family with two children, an increase of up to $1,010 for families with net incomes below $20,921.2

As the Government of Canada increases its contribution to income support through the Canada Child Tax Benefit, provinces and territories, in turn, will reinvest in complementary benefits and services for all low-income families. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is also working with First Nations to develop regional reinvestment plans that meet the objectives of the National Child Benefit and the priorities of First Nations communities.

These improved benefits and services will be financed primarily by provinces/territories adjusting social assistance benefits to correspond with the increased benefits received by these families through the CCTB. Families receiving social assistance will not see a reduction in their overall income support. And when parents move from welfare to work, the NCB ensures their children will continue to receive needed financial assistance.

A key advantage of the NCB is that provincial and territorial governments and First Nations authorities can tailor their reinvestment plans to meet the specific needs and priorities of their regions. Provinces and territories are putting strategies in place that will best suit low-income families in their jurisdiction. For example, some governments will be working to improve child care or fund early child development programs. Others will be offering extended health benefits, such as dental, optical, or pharmaceutical coverage. Many will be providing income supplements and employment benefits for low-income working families with children. Whatever the options, each province and territory is responding to local priorities.

Detailed descriptions of each province or territory's strategies for reinvestment are provided in the background paper Update on Reinvestments under the National Child Benefit.

Measuring and Reporting on Results

Governments are increasingly being asked to show that their investments are paying off: Canadians want to be assured that social programs are leading to improvement. While realizing that the National Child Benefit initiative is only one of many social and economic factors that will affect the well-being of children and families, the Government of Canada and provincial and territorial governments are committed to reporting on the progress of the NCB over time.

Through ongoing research and consultation, Canadian governments are now developing a series of performance measures that will gauge our success in meeting our goals.

Next Steps: Our Ongoing Commitment

In July 1998, the National Child Benefit goes into effect. Canadian governments are currently focusing their efforts on providing accurate and timely information to low-income families whose income support benefits will change. Provincial and territorial governments have begun implementing the new benefits and services committed to in their reinvestment strategies.

By the end of the year, the first National Child Benefit Accountability and Performance Report will be released. This report will outline the results of the NCB to date and detail the performance measures that will help us to remain publicly accountable for the success of the NCB.

In its last Budget, the Government of Canada announced a further increase in the Canada Child Tax Benefit of $850 million over the next two years as part of the National Child Benefit, for a total of $1.7 billion. The Government of Canada and provincial and territorial governments will work in partnership over the coming year to develop a plan for this contribution and associated provincial/territorial reinvestments in benefits and services for low-income families with children.

Who to Contact for More Information

For more information, please contact Human Resources Development Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, or your provincial/territorial office responsible for income support/social services.

1 Quebec, while agreeing with the basic principles of the National Child Benefit, has not taken part in the development of the initiative because it wishes to assume control of income support for the children of Quebec. Consequently, any reference to joint Government of Canada/provincial/territorial positions in this document does not include Quebec.

2 Low income working families who received the maximum Working Income Supplement in 1997/98 will have seen this increase beginning July 1997, when the Supplement was enhanced as a transitional step towards establishing the National Child Benefit.

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