Ontario families on social assistance will not face provincial clawbacks when the new Canada Child Benefit kicks in on July 1, government officials confirmed Friday.
As a result, almost 260,000 children in families who rely on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program will benefit from the full amount of their federal child benefit payment.
The new program replaces the current child benefit and supplement as well as the taxable Universal Child Care Benefit with a single non-taxable benefit.
The average Canadian family is expected to receive an additional $2,300 a year under the new initiative.
Families with incomes below $30,000 will receive the maximum benefit of $6,400 annually per child under age 6 and $5,400 for each child age 6 to 17. The vast majority of Ontario families receiving social assistance will receive these maximum amounts, officials said.
The extra money will not affect eligibility for child-care subsidies, the province’s dental program for low-income children, rent-geared-to-income subsidies or portable housing benefits, they added.
“I am proud that Ontario has taken action to make these important changes, and that we are working with the federal government to fight child poverty,” Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek said in a statement.
“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.” she added.
Anti-poverty groups criticized Ontario and other provinces for clawing back benefits from families on social assistance under Ottawa’s national child benefit supplement, introduced in 1998. They urged Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to prohibit the practice when the Canada Child Benefit is introduced.
Although the new program has no such prohibitions, Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told the Star earlier this month that he was not aware of any province or territory planning to claw back the benefit from families on welfare.
Anti-poverty advocates praised Ontario’s announcement.
“Ontario’s decisive action to prevent clawbacks on the new Canada Child Benefit will ensure that the most vulnerable families in our province receive a much needed income security boost,” said Pedro Barata of the Toronto and York Region United Way.
“This is a great example of how different levels of government can work together to fight poverty and drive tangible results that will be good for our communities.”