The Yukon government shouldn't claw back federal child benefits

Yukon NDP Health and Social Services Critic Jan Stick has made the following statement ahead of the implementation of the Government of Canada's Canada Child Benefit:

On July 1, the federal government will launch the new Canada Child Benefit, which replaces the current child benefit and supplement as well as the taxable Universal Child Care Benefit. Under this new program, the average Canadian family is expected to receive an additional $2,300 a year.

Canada’s child poverty rate is a staggering 18%, one of the highest levels in the developed world. The new Canada Child Benefit could lift an estimated 300,000 Canadian children out of poverty in 2017.

The Government of Yukon currently claws back a portion of social assistance recipients’ federal child benefits to subsidize territorial programs. The federal government has encouraged provincial and territorial governments to avoid this practice with the new Canada Child Benefit.

Despite consistent pressure from the Yukon NDP, this Yukon Party government has refused to confirm whether or not Yukon families on social assistance will continue to see their federal child benefits clawed back next month. The increase in federal child benefits may also impact recipients of the Child Care Subsidy Program, as well as those families living in social housing. Both programs are based on income.

In Alberta, Ontario and Nunavut, existing clawback policies on federal child benefits for social assistance recipients are being taken off the books. In Ontario, the Canada Child Benefit will not affect eligibility for childcare subsidies, the province’s dental program for low-income children, rent-geared-to-income subsidies or portable housing benefits.

Non-taxable child benefits are governments’ most effective poverty reduction tool since they put money directly into the pockets of low-income families. The Canada Child Benefit will help Yukon families to cope with the high costs of raising children in the territory and reduce dependency on food banks. It will lessen the consequences of child poverty on health, lowering long term health costs.

In less than a week’s time, this government has the chance to lift hundreds of Yukon families – and children – out of poverty. The Canada Child Benefit is meant to help families with the expenses of raising children while supporting the elimination of child poverty. It is not meant to subsidize territorial social programs.

Yukoners deserve a government that will make the right choice for Yukon families. A Yukon NDP government would immediately put an end to territorial clawbacks of federal child benefits from social assistance recipients, and would not consider the Canada Child Benefit as income for the purpose of social programs.

This decision has the potential to impact recipients of Income Assistance from self-governing Yukon First Nations as well as Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, as social assistance levels are consistent within the territory. A Yukon NDP government would work with Yukon First Nations Governments to alleviate child poverty through the new Canada Child Benefit.

We are committed to ending poverty in Yukon, and to giving all parents the resources they need to help their children succeed.