More Help for Families
Commentary by Ralph Goodale
Member of Parliament for Wescana and
Liberal Party of Canada Deputy Leader
It’s expensive to be a good parent in Canada. Raising a child to age 18 is estimated to take over $230,000—and that’s before the cost of post-secondary education.
Stagnant incomes haven’t helped. Over the past 30 years, median after-tax family incomes—middle class incomes—have increased by less than half a percentage point per year on average.
Current federal programs to support families are quite a hodge-podge. Some are tied to income levels. Some are not. Some are taxable. Some are not. It’s all very confusing and inadequate. In an odd twist, the Harper government’s most recent tax breaks make the situation worse. They provide the biggest benefits to the wealthiest households, but nothing for those in greatest need. That simply has to change.
The Liberal Party believes that middle class Canadians, and all those working so hard just to get there, deserve more.
By rolling all the current support programs together, topping them up with money saved by reducing government waste, and then targeting benefits to lower and middle income households, we can create a new and better “Canada Child Benefit” (CCB). It would provide a lot more help, indexed to inflation and completely tax free, to nine out of 10 families.
For the lowest income households (below $30,000 annually), the new Liberal CCB would pay $6,400 per year for every child under the age of 6, and $5,400 per year for every child over 6 but under 18. That adds up to hundreds of dollars more per-child each year than what’s currently available. The amounts per child would gradually taper downward at higher incomes.
A typical family with two kids (one over 6, one under 6) and a household income of $90,000 would get $5,875 annually—that’s more than $2500 better than under existing programs. If that same family makes $140,000, they would get $3,125 per year—over $1,000 better.
Our plan is progressive and fair because it’s linked to income levels. It’s good economics because it’s efficient and transparent in putting more dollars in the hands of middle and lower income households who quickly reinvest that money in the economy.
By providing more help to parents with the high cost of raising kids, the Liberal Party’s CCB will be a powerful improvement in fighting poverty, bolstering the middle class and driving growth. And that’s real change!