Liberal government to boost Canada child benefit payments: sources

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau will unveil a boost to the Canada child benefit, CBC News has learned. (Stephen MacGillivray/Canadian Press)

The federal government will announce plans to boost payments made to families under the Canada child benefit program on Tuesday, CBC News has learned.

Multiple sources, speaking to CBC News and Radio-Canada on the condition of anonymity, said the government will foreshadow the increase in the fall economic update, which will be tabled tomorrow, and provide more details later this week.

The benefit was introduced in 2016 and gives most families with children under the age of 18 a monthly cheque.

The benefit offers a maximum $533.33 a month for each child under six — and $450 for each child aged six to 17 — in a family earning less than $30,000 annually, and is adjusted downward as a family's net income increases.

The payment is not currently indexed to inflation, something the Liberal government said it would do starting in 2020, if re-elected. Indexation could be one of the levers the government uses to boost payouts.

During the last election, the Liberals touted the means-tested benefit — which replaced the universal child care benefit introduced by the former Conservative government — as a powerful poverty fighting tool, estimating some 300,000 children would be lifted out of poverty after the money from the $23-billion program started to flow.

Some experts have publicly questioned that figure. And as CBC News reported in July, there are also many eligible Indigenous families that are not applying for the benefit.

Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada, has praised the child benefit in the past as an economic stimulant.

Late last month, Poloz said the Canada child benefit had a "pretty significant" impact on the Canadian economy and he attributed growth in labour-force participation to the payments.

"What it did is put a floor under some folks," Poloz said, adding it might have encouraged stay-at-home parents to re-enter the workforce because the financial supports could help pay for child care.