Whitehorse Daily Star

Child benefit won’t mean a clawback, YTG says

Yukoners receiving social assistance will not have their payments clawed back when the Canada Child Benefit kicks in on July 1, says the Yukon Party government.

By Sidney Cohen on June 28, 2016

Yukoners receiving social assistance will not have their payments clawed back when the Canada Child Benefit kicks in on July 1, says the Yukon Party government.

Nor will the new federal benefit affect the ability of Yukon families to access the Yukon Child Benefit, the Kids Recreation Fund, the Children’s Drug and Optical Program, and the Child Care Subsidy Program, which are all income-based social assistance programs, cabinet spokesperson Michael Edwards confirmed today.

“The premier and the minister have given direction to Health and Social Services that the new federal government program will have no negative impact on the (above) programs,” said Edwards. “The people will be able to access the programs in the same way.”

Mike Nixon, the minister of Health and Social Services, said today there will be an adjustment period over the summer. If some Yukoners do see their social assistance clawed back in that time, the government will retroactively repay them.

“We are still grappling with how this new benefit will affect our own programs,” Nixon told the Star.

“We anticipate that probably by August, latest September, that we’ll have our regulations in place and any clawbacks between (July 1 and) that time, we’ll have money returned to them,” he said.

In the Yukon, the amount a family gets in social assistance is pegged to its income.

The worry was that families would see their social assistance payments reduced (“clawed back”) if the Canada Child Benefit is counted as a source of income.

Right now, the Yukon government counts the federal National Child Benefit Supplement as income.

“The whole point (of the Canada Child Benefit) is to put money in families’ accounts for them to be able to provide for and support their children,” NDP MLA Jan Stick said in an interview today.

“It will put money into their pockets for them to determine how to best use it: to buy better groceries, activities for their kids.”

In the past, Stick said, the territorial government used a portion of federal child benefits to subsidize local social assistance programs.

“This time, we’re trying to put money into the pockets of those who need it,” she said.

The Yukon government currently provides social assistance to 235 recipients.

Anti-poverty groups such as Canada Without Poverty (CWP) and Campaign 2000 have called on the provinces and territories to not reduce social assistance payments once the Canada Child Benefit comes into effect.

“It is absolutely critical that the CCB (Canada Child Benefit) not result in claw backs that deny the most impoverished Canadian families additional income to help meet their children’s needs,” said CWP in a June 6 statement.

“One of the big concerns across the country is the level at which social assistance rates are set – they tend to be below any reasonable standard of living and below any measure of poverty,” said Leilani Farha, executive director of CWP.

“The sense that we shouldn’t entrust people living in poverty with money, but rather we should claw it back as a territory and then we invest this money in programs that we think people need has a paternalistic feeling to it, that we know better, we know what people need,” she said.

Under the new Canada Child Benefit program, each year families will get up to $6,400 per child under the age of six and up to $5,400 per child aged six to 17.

The benefit is tax-free and pegged to income. Families with a net income of less than $30,000 will get the maximum benefit.

Payments, which are delivered monthly, begin July 20 in the Yukon and replace Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit.

The idea is to target the payments to families who need it most.

Low- and middle-income families will receive more money under the Canada Child Benefit.

High-income families (those earning a net income of $150,000 or more) will receive less than under previous child benefit programs.

About nine out of 10 families will see their benefits increase under the new system, according to the Liberal government.

The added cost of caring for a child with a serious disability is also accounted for under the new system. The Child Disability Benefit will continue and families will get up to $2,730 for each child with a severe disability.

The government estimates that the Canada Child Benefit will raise about 300,000 children out of poverty in 2016-17.

In total, Ottawa will spend about $23 billion on the new program in 2016-17.

Other jurisdictions have also said the new program will not affect benefits their residents currently receive through provincial/territorial social assistance programs.

Ontario families, for example, will not see their social assistance clawed back once the Canada Child Benefit payments begin. Families in that province will be eligible for rent-geared-to-income housing, and dental benefits for low-income children, the same as before.

“Putting the full amount of the Canada Child Benefit in the hands of families instead of clawing it back to subsidize existing provincial programs is a crucial way to help the most vulnerable children and families in our province,” Dr. Helena Jaczek, the Ontario minister of Community and Social Services, said in a June 17 statement.

Nunavut too, will not count the Canada Child Benefit as income.

UNICEF measures inequality among children in the world’s wealthiest countries.

In its 2016 report on child inequality called Fairness for Children: Canada’s Challenge, the United Nations children’s organization looked at how far the most disadvantaged children are allowed to fall behind children in the middle, in terms of their health, income, education and general satisfaction with life.

The report calls Canada “one of the more unequal societies for children,” ranking it 26th of 35 countries.

At 17 per cent, Canada has one of the highest rates of child poverty among the world’s most affluent nations, said the report.

“It is unlikely that Canada will substantially lift the well-being of children unless we address broader income inequality,” reads the UNICEF report.

The Canada Child Benefit, UNICEF said, “is likely to reduce child poverty by around 25-30 per cent and help narrow inequality.”

Comments (9)

Up 2 Down 1

Lost in the Yukon on Jul 3, 2016 at 12:29 am

Dearest Wayne: so I guess the answer is "no". Why are we not surprised.

Up 3 Down 3

Wayne on Jul 1, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Family allowance was about $36.00 a month until it was cancelled (by the Liberals) in 1992.

Up 4 Down 3

Lost in the Yukon on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:24 am

Dearest Wayne: ... some form of Family Allowance has been around since 1945 and I'm sure your family cheerfully cashed the monthly cheque. It has only been since the 80s that it has become more focused towards low income Canadians. If you feel you didn't deserve or need the money or you're family didn't then I'm sure the Tax Man would be happy to receive a cheque from you with a note saying "Thanks but I want to raise my kids and my family wanted to raise me without any money from Canada"

Up 9 Down 4

Wayne on Jun 29, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Tax free? This is income redistribution at it's worst. It's 2016; there is no reason to have children you cannot afford. I raised mine, you raise yours.

Up 10 Down 8

The liberals give with one hand and take it back with the other on Jun 29, 2016 at 10:11 am

Ottawa knows best for Yukoners. Now do you wish that the conservatives were in power.

Up 26 Down 2

Guest on Jun 28, 2016 at 10:08 pm

I've been on SA for a while now and not by choice. I've tried to get jobs all over Whitehorse from letter carrier, cashier, KFC, McDonald's, Reitmans, Canadian Tire, Canadream RV, salons, driver for companies, Air North, restaurants, etc etc and I've applied numerous times! I don't have the credentials as most people or connections that others have but I've tried my very best as a single mom to getting a job and if it weren't for SA I wouldn't have lived on my own, I would been living with my family which I never really want even after having my own family. Also I do not drink or smoke or party, I use my money responsibly by taken care of my child's needs first and I'm happy that the Yukon and Canadian government have this supplement for the CHILDREN. It's a shame most people abuse the whole situation but there are some rare gems of us that do right and use this money wisely. I now have part time work but don't make enough to pay rent, bills, and my child's needs on top of that but still I'm doing my very best to get my child the very best they need to have a happy childhood as well.

Up 1 Down 7

George Lessard on Jun 28, 2016 at 6:53 pm

It's also happened in the NWT
Changes To The NWT Income Assistance Program…”
http://www.gov.nt.ca/newsroom/news/alfred-moses-changes-income-assistance-program which said, in part,
“… provides many critical programs and services for some of the territory’s most vulnerable residents through its Income Security programs. Through our ongoing efforts to continually improve these programs, I’d like to share with you today a significant change to the way we will be supporting families with children.
These changes have implications for our Income Assistance Program. Under the current system the Income Assistance Program considers some of the previous federal children’s benefits as income. We are revising our program so that none of the new Canada Child Benefit is considered as income, to ensure our residents receive the full benefit.
This is extremely good news for our residents, and the steps we are taking will help our most vulnerable residents immensely. …”

Up 15 Down 2

June Jackson on Jun 28, 2016 at 6:41 pm

There are people I know who genuinely need a little financial help.. I am happy to help them. There are people I know who will never be able to manage, be it welfare/disability I am happy to help them too. There are also people I know that just need a top up to their income to make ends meet, they are working poor, and I am happy to help them as well. For them, this back payment, is a windfall.. something extra for their kids, or a family outing.

For way too many welfare is a career. This extra money will go up their nose, or up in smoke, or down the hatch. The legislation says welfare recipients can not buy tobacco products, or liquor with public funds..Mention drug testing and all of a sudden everyone on welfare has civil rights, mention proving you looked for a job, and all of a sudden everyone has 'issues', they don't even mention proving that the accommodation welfare is paying $900. a month for even exists.. (yup, make up an address, live with the girlfriend).. take the free child care and party your butt off all week, no one asks for proof of how you used that free child care.

But, the kicker is... even if they did drug test and a welfare recipient tests positive.. what are they going to do? Risk the bad press by kicking them off welfare...poor poor addict? even if someone is standing right in front of a case worker smoking.. she is going to do nothing about it. Welfare in the whole country is out of hand because there is simply nothing anyone is willing to do about it.

So.. Marcy.. yes, you are far far better off on welfare. Stay on it your whole life and when you are 65 you will move over to senior services, and get even more money with GIS, and all the freebies "the poor" get.

Up 23 Down 15

marcy on Jun 28, 2016 at 4:29 pm

The Yukon Government's program is a joke. They at no time make their clients look for jobs, or enforce it.

Here is a free check for rent, medical, daycare, bills, and groceries. That's all it is... hell, I think I'd rather be on welfare, than having to go to work everyday and bust my back for a cheque.

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