Family benefits welcome news
Dear Editor: The improvement by Liberals to the Child Care Benefit is built upon along heritage. The family allowance was introduced by Mackenzie King’s Liberal government in 1947.
The legislation was Canada’s first monthly payment to families with children and Canada’s first universal welfare program.
There was, of course, debate and controversy, back then it was the Tories who complained taxpayer’s money would go to both rich and poor households alike. The thought of rich kids getting the same as poor kids, to some on the surface it may seem unreasonable, but ultimately reason leads us to see that in the end every Canadian child is equal.
All of Canada’s best landmark programs are universal in nature. Universality, as a distribution tool, is government’s most efficient way of delivering net benefits to greatest number, penetrating every socioeconomic stratum of Canadian society, benefiting the whole. The legislation passed unanimously in the House of Commons.
The family allowance continued to benefit Canadian families until 1986, when the Mulroney Conservatives, dealing with a growing national deficit from a Conservative spending spree that unfortunately and unexpectedly ran into double-digit interest rate hikes, during their first term.
Brian Mulroney announced changes to family allowance and by 1989 the universal nature was dropped. Upper-income parents were to repay all of their benefits at tax-filing time. Though to ease the pain, the Mulroney Conservatives left and increased a tax-deduction for child-care expenses that provided the most benefit to high-income families.
In 2006, the fondly remembered “baby bonus,” every Canadian mother received, axed by Conservatives was returned, when former prime minister Stephen Harper brought back universality to Canada’s family benefit, with his Universal Child Care Benefit, which provided $100 a month for every child under six.
By 2009, the family allowance program was phased out and Canadian families were able to apply for the new universal child care benefit program. The Conservatives offered a myriad of boutique credits to enhance the benefit, such as for hockey and for art and piano lessons, also the program offered families different ways to split income to help reduce their taxes.
But without a doubt, the greatest benefit Harper brought was to return the universal-nature to Canada’s family benefit program, nicked by the previous Conservative government.
The Liberal enrichment of the Canada child care benefit comes from an obvious need, but also comes from the Liberal’s own principals and beliefs in a universal family child care tax-benefit, which is praised by every Canadian tax expert, as one of the best ways to deliver net-benefit to the largest number of Canadians. Not everybody slides in easily, problems happen, but none are insurmountable, some only take longer.
Even so, the improvement to the family benefit by the Liberal government is welcome news indeed for all Canadians. Jon Peter Christoff