Archived - Status Update on Reinvestment Plans under the National Child Benefit
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Status Update on Reinvestment Plans under the National Child Benefit
March 12, 1998
Provincial and territorial governments share a commitment with the Government of Canada to the success of the National Child Benefit (NCB). This status update provides a description of progress on reinvestment plans in each jurisdiction up to March 12, 1998.
As part of the National Child Benefit, provincial and territorial governments are investing in programs and benefits reflective of each jurisdictions special needs and priorities. These reinvestments are consistent with the goals of the NCB: to reduce the depth of child poverty and help low-income families find and keep work. In addition, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is working with First Nations and provinces/territories to develop complementary programs for First Nations children living on reserve.
This is the first in a series of updates on the NCB, with another targeted for release in late spring 1998. For some jurisdictions, further details on their reinvestment plans will be contained in their spring budgets.
BC will focus its NCB reinvestments on helping low- and modest-income families with children get into and stay in the labour market.
Specifically, BC will be developing a new employment incentive program to support families with children. Its objective is to both reduce child poverty and promote economic security through participation in the labour market. It will be implemented in July 1998, concurrent with the National Child Benefit.
Since the 1996 introduction of BC Benefits, including the BC Family Bonus, the BC government has introduced a range of initiatives to actively support and encourage employment. BCs NCB reinvestment initiative builds on this focus. It will be part of a broader BC strategy to increase opportunities for British Columbians to succeed in the labour market and to strengthen childrens educational experience, particularly in the early years. BC plans to introduce a number of innovative job-related tools, including work experience and job start/return programs.
BC will be announcing its NCB reinvestments as part of a broader strategy of social policy reforms in its March 1998 budget.
Alberta will have approximately $13.7 million available for reinvestment from July 1998 to March 1999 and $21.2 million annually as a result of adjustments to social assistance. This will be further supplemented by adjustments in student assistance to provide a provincial reinvestment pool of $23.7 million annually.
Albertas primary reinvestment choice will focus on a new Child Health Benefit. This program will be allocated $17.5 million annually from the reinvestment fund. Consultations with focus groups in the province identified health coverage for low-income working families as the single highest priority.
This health plan will offer basic coverage for dental, optical, ambulance services and prescription drugs for all low-income families with annual net incomes below $18,000 and for parents in academic upgrading programs who receive student assistance.
The coverage will be modelled on the coverage provided to welfare recipients and will be sufficient to meet basic health needs. For example, the following services will be covered: two dental check-ups per year, cavity fillings, eyeglasses, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter childrens medication. These services will be covered by 50 to 100% of the cost, depending on the familys situation and the service being covered.
It is estimated that approximately 115,000 children in Alberta will be eligible for the Child Health Benefit. This includes 97,000 children in low-income working families and 18,000 children of parents in academic upgrading programs.
The health plan promises to achieve two goals of the National Child Benefit: addressing the depth of child poverty and promoting attachment to the workforce. It will provide health coverage to thousands of low-income families who dont have coverage for their children, it will support low-income families efforts to remain in the workforce, and it will offer families on welfare the assurance of continued health coverage for their children as they leave welfare.
Options for use of the balance of Albertas reinvestment funding are under review. It is expected that a decision will be made in the very near future. All of Albertas reinvestment initiatives will be implemented in August 1998, in conjunction with implementation of the NCB.
The Saskatchewan government estimates it will have $11 million to reinvest in new programs during the 1998-99 fiscal year. The reinvestment pool will grow to $15 million on an annualised basis.
Saskatchewan plans to broadly reform its income security programs so that the base of families who are eligible will be extended beyond the current welfare threshold to include low-income working families. Reinvestment funds will be used to support this process and will be supplemented by the province in the 1998/99 fiscal year to provide additional improvements to programs for low-income families. Major reinvestments will include:
Saskatchewan Child Benefit (SCB) The SCB will be an income-tested benefit designed to integrate closely with the new federal National Child Benefit Supplement. It will be delivered by the Government of Canada as an integrated payment with the Canada Child Tax Benefit. Saskatchewans income support benefits for children will be transferred from social assistance to the new Saskatchewan Child Benefit.
Saskatchewan Employment Supplement (SES) This initiative is an employment support program which will provide a monthly supplement on employment, self-employment and maintenance income for low-income families with children. It will be delivered by the province in order to be more closely tied to changes in income.
All families who are eligible for the SCB and SES will also receive supplementary health benefits for children including drug, dental, optical and other coverage. Parents will also receive partial supplementary health coverage.
These new programs will help to reduce child poverty by lowering barriers to employment for low-income families. They will assist parents with the child-related costs of going to work and create a bridge for parents on social assistance to help them make the leap from dependence to the workforce. Benefits from these programs are expected to reach a total of 40,000 families. Research has shown that investing in children can result in lifelong gains both for the children and for society. This initiative builds on the experience and success of the Saskatchewan Action Plan for Children.
Implementation is planned for July 1998. Further details are expected to be announced over the next few months through the provincial budget, news releases and direct mail outs.
Manitoba will spend over $15 million in 1998/99 for early intervention and healthy child development programs, and for additional supports to benefit children in lower-income families.
These initiatives will be funded through $10.0 million made available in 1998/99 for reinvestment under National Child Benefit recoveries, and by over $5 million in new provincial funds. The recoveries under the National Child Benefit are expected to increase to approximately $14.0 million on an annual basis starting in April 1999.
In response to the priorities identified by Manitobans in public consultations, funds for 1998/99 will be invested in the following areas:
- $2.0 million for early intervention programs emphasising positive parenting, healthy child development and preventing adolescent pregnancy;
- $2.1 million for childrens nutrition programs, including new partnerships with community groups;
- $2.0 million for training and job placement programs to assist more income assistance clients and lower-income working parents find and keep jobs;
- $4.8 million to expand the accessibility, portability and flexibility of child care options to help lower-income working families with young children enter and remain in the workforce;
- $2.6 million for early literacy programs, and programs to help families ensure their children are ready to learn and are successful when they enter the school system; and
- $1.7 million for families on income assistance who are making the transition to the new National Child Benefit.
Manitoba expects these new investments to help contribute to the two main goals of the National Child Benefit preventing and reducing the depth of child poverty, and promoting attachment to the workforce. The new early intervention and prevention programs targeted to high-risk families will help more children develop into healthy and productive adults and break the cycle of poverty. More income assistance families will gain independence by entering and remaining in jobs as a result of increased access to placement and training opportunities, and by the availability of quality, flexible child care options.
Manitobas initiatives will begin to be implemented in April 1998.
Under the National Child Benefit initiative, Ontario will reinvest more than $150 million annually in provincial funds by expanding programs or benefits that help low-income families with children.
In the 1997 Ontario Budget, the government announced that $100 million of the provincial reinvestment will be used to enhance its new Ontario Child Care Tax Credit as the National Child Benefit initiative is phased in. This is the first child care tax credit in Ontarios history. Ontario parents want child care to be more affordable and they want more child care choices. With this new tax credit more low-income families will receive help with child care costs by providing up to $400 per child under age seven. It declines in value for families with annual incomes above $20,000.
The tax credit will provide $40 million to approximately 90,000 lower-income working families and their 125,000 children for the 1997 tax year. The design features for the $100 million enrichment of the Ontario Child Care Tax Credit will be announced in the near future. This enrichment of the tax credit will increase benefits to lower-income working families and expand benefits to additional working families with children. Depending on the design of the enriched tax credit, as many as 365,000 children could receive support from Ontario for child care. More families with children will receive assistance, with priority being given to families who need help to start or stay at work.
Details on the focus for the remaining reinvestment will be forthcoming in the spring. As a province, Ontario believes strongly in creating services that help children get a better start. Ontario has already demonstrated its commitment to this belief by investing in preschool speech and language services, by providing ongoing support to high-risk families through the Better Beginnings, Better Futures program and by introducing the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program. Supporting such programs and initiatives is important to Ontarios future. Ontario is carefully considering how to add to these efforts though the reinvestment strategy. Our goal is to ensure that children, especially those who, for a variety of reasons, need some specialized services, are helped to realize their potential.
New Brunswick will have approximately $8.9 million available for reinvestment from July 1998 to March 1999 and $11.2 million annually.
New Brunswick introduced its own Child Tax Benefit and Working Income Supplement in April of 1997 in recognition of the difficult circumstances of low-income families. Due to the level of social assistance benefits in the province, the reinvestment strategy will need to address both the objectives of reducing the depth of poverty and providing better supports to labour force attachment.
New Brunswick is in the process of presenting its reinvestment proposal to Cabinet. At present, several options are being examined, including enhancements to the Day Care Assistance Program. Final decisions are expected in early spring.
The province expects to implement its reinvestment strategy simultaneously with the implementation of the National Child Benefit in July 1998.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island will be making an announcement on its NCB reinvestment strategy in the spring of 1998.
Estimated reinvestment amounts and program costs are presently being compiled and the final plans will depend on the completion of these estimates. However, it is likely that the reinvestment amount will be used to enhance child care and early childhood services in the province.
The expanded support for child care will begin in July 1998 and will be aimed at increasing the access to, and affordability of, child care for low-income working parents. This reinvestment should serve to support parents with limited means to enter and remain in the workforce. Early childhood services which could benefit from the reinvestment funds could include child welfare, early intervention, and foster care.
Nova Scotia will direct its reinvestment strategy towards programs that help meet the growing needs of low-income families with children.
There are two primary reinvestment options which are being considered by Nova Scotia. The first is the provincial child benefit plus a range of healthy child development initiatives. The second is an earned income supplement plus a range of healthy child development initiatives. Both options not only help low-income parents address impediments to labour force attachment but also recognize the importance of promoting healthy child development and its long-term benefits. A decision is pending from Cabinet.
Both program options are consistent with the broad NCB goals of preventing and reducing the depth of child poverty and helping low-income families strengthen work force attachment.
Nova Scotia will implement its reinvestment strategy in conjunction with the implementation of the National Child Benefit.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador will have $8.0 million available for reinvestment from July 1998 to March 1999, and $10.8 million annually. These figures have been adjusted to take into account a number of factors including social assistance caseload projections for July 1998 and program implementation costs.
An announcement on the provinces reinvestment strategy will be made in spring 1998 with a possible date being linked to governments 1998-99 budget process. A number of options are being considered, taking into account the particular circumstances of the province, the needs of low-income families with children and the availability of programs and services to meet those needs.
The province has identified a number of strategic areas that require consideration, including early childhood services, supportive services for families and children at risk, and income support measures that address disincentives to employment. In arriving at a decision on the specific directions for the reinvestment of NCB funds, the province is taking into account the results of several recent public consultation processes, including input into the ongoing development of a provincial Strategic Social Plan and the 1996 House of Assembly Select Committee on Childrens Interests.
The Government of the Northwest Territories will have approximately $1.6 million from July 1998 to March 1999 and $2.1 million annually for reinvestment in NCB initiatives. They will supplement this with an additional $2.0 million in new funding for the NWT Child Benefit and the Territorial Workers Supplement.
The NWT Child Benefit
- All families with net annual incomes of $20,921 or less will receive an annual benefit of at least $330 per child. This is in addition to the increased Canada Child Tax Benefit.
- The benefit will begin to be phased-out with net annual incomes of $20,921. The level at which it would be eliminated would vary according to family size.
- The benefit will be administered by Revenue Canada and delivered monthly with the Canada Child Tax Benefit. It will be paid to the childrens primary caregiver the same caregiver who is receiving the Canada Child Tax Benefit.
The Territorial Workers Supplement
Families with working annual incomes of $3,750 or more would be entitled to an additional Territorial Workers Supplement (TWS). It will be phased-in, so that the maximum benefit becomes available when a familys working income reaches $10,000. The TWS will help support low-income families with their increased expenses resulting from work.
It is estimated that about 6,500 families, or 14,300 children (59% of all children in the Northwest Territories) will receive some benefit from the NWTs reinvestment initiatives. New programs will begin in July 1998.
Maximum Benefits Under the NCB and NWT Child Benefit/TWS
(annual $ paid to families)
|1 Child||$1,625||$ 605||$2,230|
The Yukon will have approximately $220,600 available for reinvestment from July 1998 to March 1999. On an annualised basis, approximately $314,100 will be available. If the program costs exceed available NCB reinvestment funds, the Yukon may provide additional funds.
The Yukon will reinvest in the Childrens Drug and Optical Program. It is designed to assist low-income families with the cost of prescription drugs and eye care for children up to the age of 18 years. To be eligible, families must fall within a certain income range based on the family size, and use other insurance programs for which they are eligible first. There is a deductible of up to $500 per family per year, which is waived for families in the lowest income ranges.
Family income is one factor which affects the health of children. Low-income families often cannot afford the drugs needed for medical treatment and will go without regular eye examinations and purchasing eye glasses in favour of using their limited resources on other family needs. The program ensures that children in low-income working families have benefits comparable to the benefits they would receive on social assistance. In some cases, the program may remove one of the barriers to families leaving social assistance.
The Childrens Drug and Optical Program responds to the Yukon governments commitment to address the needs of Yukon men, women and children living in poverty, as identified in the Government of Yukon Action Agenda 1997-2000.
The pilot project phase of the program was implemented on January 1, 1998, with full implementation scheduled for April 1, 1998.
It has not yet been decided how the additional Childrens Special Allowance allocation will be reinvested.
It is expected that about 2000 Yukon children will access the Childrens Drug and Optical Program. There are about 350 children in care who may benefit from the increase in the Childrens Special Allowance.
Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that First Nations children living on reserve benefit like other Canadian children from the National Child Benefit.
The amount of money available for reinvestment will depend on adjustments to provincial social assistance rates, which are the basis for establishing welfare funding on reserves.
DIAND will retain reinvestment dollars at the regional level and will work in consultation with First Nations and provinces to develop reinvestment strategies. All reinvestments will be guided by the objectives of the National Child Benefit.
In some provinces, First Nations and provincial reinvestments may be the same. In other provinces, DIAND will work with First Nations to develop their own unique reinvestment initiatives.
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