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NLIS 2
May 24, 2001
(Human Resources and Employment)

 

The following statement was issued today by Gerald Smith, Minister of Human Resources and Employment. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

Earlier this year, it was my pleasure to announce that low income families with children will be able to earn more money and still qualify for the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit.

As this session of the House draws to a conclusion, I wish to take the opportunity to remind families in receipt of the NLCB that these changes will take effect on July 1st, 2001. The income thresholds that determine eligibility for the NLCB and the amounts received will change. The adjustment is significant in the sense that it will provide an increase for approximately 5,000 families currently in receipt of the child benefit. It also reaffirms our commitment to addressing the issue of child poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The change means that more families will be eligible for the full benefit, the income level at which the partial benefit ceases will be higher, and overall more families will receive full or partial coverage. This adjustment also ensures that families are supported in their efforts to obtain and maintain employment. It means that families leaving social assistance will continue to receive a child benefit, therefore easing the transition to work.

This is good news for families since this adjustment in the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit coincides with a benefit increase and a similar adjustment to the income thresholds for the Canada Child Tax Benefit.

Newfoundland and Labrador is one of six provinces that has acted to create a child benefit for low income families, including low income working families. In doing so, this province has been able to move income support for children outside of the social assistance program. This means that the child benefit does not cease when the family leaves social assistance.

While much progress has been made since the introduction of the National Child Benefit and the NLCB, there is still much more that can and should be done, if we are to reduce the depth of child poverty in Canada. Provincial/Territorial Ministers responsible for Social Services recently met in Halifax, Nova Scotia to discuss the progress of the National Child Benefit and possible future directions. The NCB has been an excellent example of federal-provincial cooperation in pursuit of a common objective, providing low income families with a stable source of income support and reducing the barriers to work. Ministers are currently engaged in preparing a status report on the National Child Benefit for the upcoming Annual Premiers Conference.

This review is timely and I believe it provides an opportunity to consider further options to enhance the National Child Benefit. As Minister responsible for Social Services in this province, I will do my part to advocate for increased federal investment in the Canada Child Tax Benefit. Currently, the federal government has committed to growing the federal child benefit to $2,500 for a first child and $2,300 for a second and subsequent child by 2004. The partnership between the federal and provincial governments has been critical to the progress achieved thus far. We now need to set new targets for future cooperation.

I believe we all share a common vision of a country free of child poverty.

Backgrounder:

Under the current program, families with dependent children are eligible for a full benefit with a net income up to $15,921, and a partial benefit between $15,921 - $20,921. Starting July 1, the income level for the full benefit will increase to $16,744, with the income level for partial benefits also rising to between $16,744 - $21,744.

In 1999, Human Resources and Employment established the NLCB as a tax- free monthly payment that provides low income families, whether in receipt of income support or not, with ongoing stable support for their children. The NLCB was introduced as part of the province’s contribution to the National Child Benefit reinvestment strategy aimed at helping low income families make the transition to employment. The federal government is raising the income threshold and the benefit amounts of the CCTB this summer. The NLCB and CCTB are combined into a single monthly payment for families.

The change means that more families will be eligible for the full benefit, the income level at which the partial benefit ceases will be higher, and overall more families will receive full or partial coverage.

Approximately 21,000 families a year receive the NLCB.

To qualify for the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit, each spouse must file an income tax return. They must also apply for the Canada Child Tax Benefit if not already receiving the CCTB.

2001 05 24                                             2:00 p.m.


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