Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has already tabled its official response to the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the House of Commons on March 4, 2011. This response clearly articulated our approach to addressing poverty, which remains relevant.
The Government of Canada’s approach to reducing poverty emphasizes providing Canadians with skills and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, while offering targeted supports for those facing particular barriers. The measures announced since 2006 have demonstrated our efforts to support Canadians, both during periods of economic growth and now as our country is emerging from the global recession. Budget 2011, “The Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan: A Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth”, supports job creation and continues to lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth.
One of the most important investments to make work more rewarding for low income Canadians is the working income tax benefit, WITB. The WITB supplements the earnings of low income workers and reduces the “welfare wall” by helping to ensure that those Canadians on social assistance are financially better off as a result of getting a job. The WITB includes an additional amount for persons with disabilities, as these individuals generally face even greater barriers to work force participation. Introduced in 2007, this refundable credit was enhanced in budget 2009 by $580 million, effectively doubling the initial investment. In 2011, approximately 1.5 million working Canadian families are expected to benefit from the WITB.
The Government of Canada believes that the family is the building block of society, and what we can do as a country is to help families with the costs of raising their children. The Government of Canada provides over $14 billion per year in benefits for families with children through the Canada child tax benefit, CCTB, including the national child benefit, supplement for low income families, the NCB; the universal child care benefit, UCCB; and the child tax credit, CTC.
Since 2006, the Government of Canada has made significant investments in these benefits for families with children. The Government introduced the UCCB, which pays $100 per month to all families for each child under the age of six to help cover the costs of whatever form of child care they choose. The government has also made improvements to ensure that the UCCB treats single-parent families and those with joint custody fairly. The UCCB is complemented by the CTC, which benefits more than three million families, providing maximum tax relief of over $300 per child. The government also increased the amount that families can earn before benefits under the CCTB, including the NCB supplement, are reduced, thereby providing increased support for low and modest income families with children. Additional tax measures to recognize other expenses include the children’s fitness tax credit, introduced in 2007, and the children’s arts tax credit, announced in budget 2011.
The Canada social transfer is the main federal transfer program providing financial support to the provinces and territories for social assistance and social services, including early childhood development, early learning and child care, and post-secondary education. The transfer to the provinces and territories for 2012–13 will be almost $11.9 billion.