Canadian families missing out on millions in unclaimed child care benefits: Ottawa

Canada Politics
Inuit children read an Inuktitut language book at a day care in Iqaluit. The Auditor General of Canada is in Nunavut discussing his report on education, which says Nunavut won't meet its goal of a bilingual education in English and Inuktitut by 2020.

Employment and Social Development Minister Pierre Poilievre is pleading with everyone — with you, with his colleagues in the House of Commons — to help spread the word about the lack of families lining up to claim the government’s Universal Child Care Benefit.

Anyone who has previously applied for the child care benefit will be automatically registered for the changes, but according to Poilievre, about 200,000 unregistered families will likely miss out on the expanded program.

Previously, families would receive $100 a month for every child under 6 years of age. Under the expanded program, parents will receive $160 per month, for a total annual benefit of $1,920 per year for each child.

A new benefit for parents with children between the ages of 6 and 17 has also been added, offering $60 per month for each child.

It’s estimated the expansion brings benefits to four million Canadian familes, up from 1.3 million under the old program.

Poilievre said the program puts money back into the pockets of families with kids under 18 “so they can make their own choices” about how to raise their kids, and added that through the expanded program families with kids under the age of 6 will get about $2000 a year; for those over 6, the benefit comes to $720 a year.

“We want to ensure that every family with children receives the enhanced universal child care benefit,” Poilievre said in a statement.

“If you’ve got kids under 18, you qualify. Period,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter how much you make or the type of child care you choose.”​

The program isn’t without its critics. Child care often costs much more than $100 or $160 a month and critics argue that the monthly cheque doesn’t actually provide parents with the choice to work full-time and pay for daycare, or for one parent to stay home.

The Universal Child Care Benefit stands in stark contrast to the NDP’s electoral promise of creating a national child care program that would provide day care services of no more than $15 a day.