Fam­ily ben­e­fits wel­come news

The Daily Courier - - LETTERS -

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

West Kelowna

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