The CCB – the Canada Child Benefit – has been described as the most significant innovation in the “family policies” of the Government of Canada in more than a generation. It is a major pillar of federal support to help defray the costs of raising a family.
Direct federal financial assistance for mothers and children has existed in Canada in one form or another since Mackenzie King first introduced Family Allowances in the 1940s. By 2015, the country had a complex hodge-podge of family programs, credits and benefits, each with its own design quirks and tax rules.
It was all quite cumbersome and incoherent. A significant issue was that government benefit cheques were going to multi-millionaires, while low income families couldn’t make ends meet. The CCB fixed these discrepancies.
We pulled all the dollars being spent on all these various pre-existing family programs together, and added some extra federal funding on top. Instead of a bunch of boutique payments, there is now one. The amount is calculated on a sliding scale based on need, taking into account the family’s other income, the number of children and their ages.
As of this month, the maximum annual CCB benefit for each child under the age of six is $6,639. For each child between six and 17 years of age, the maximum annual benefit is $5,602. These amounts scale down as family income scales up.
The CCB is now indexed, totally tax-free and paid automatically every month. At the same time, we have reduced the federal income tax rate applicable to the middle-class by 7%, benefiting about nine million Canadian taxpayers.
The net result of all this is that 9-out-of-10 Canadian families are substantially better off – by more than $2,000 per year on average. They have more disposable income to devote to their family needs. Buying the necessities is more affordable. And that increased spending power helps to drive consumer demand and economic growth.
Statistics Canada has also recently confirmed that since the introduction of the CCB, close to 300,000 children across this country have been lifted out of poverty.
In Saskatchewan, those larger, indexed, tax-free CCB payments are going to 118,000 families with more than 230,000 children. It all adds up to an annual cash injection of almost a billion dollars into the provincial economy – every year, and growing.
In my Regina-Wascana constituency, the CCB has been generating more than $4.5 million in payments to local families every month. That’s an annual total of more than $54 million. With indexation, that local investment will increase to protect the CCB against inflation.