Ottawa Simplifies Documentation of the Canada Child Benefit
The federal government will be offering this month a simplified application form for the Canada Child Benefit (CAC), after hearing about the barriers faced by newcomers and Aboriginals who qualify but do not perform administrative formalities necessary to obtain it.
T he responsible minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, was told several months ago that the eligibility rules for the benefit and the demand itself could be an obstacle for some “at risk” families.
Although participation rates are high, there are potentially thousands of eligible beneficiaries who do not receive benefits, because they are informal caretakers who are not recognized as legal guardians, live on reserves or are have not filed a tax return.
A briefing note prepared for Minister Duclos late last year also noted a particularly problematic situation for Aboriginal families whose children are released from provincial child welfare systems. Provinces and territories have described the transition as a “challenge for Aboriginal peoples,” in part because “families do not generally have new demand” in this situation.
The note indicated that the application would be revised to reflect the fact that it is too complex for some families, particularly for newcomers.
The government is announcing that the new form will be available this month – when the amount of the allowance increases, to adjust to the cost of living. Contacts will also be established with the 700 First Nations to help families apply; brochures have been translated into the Aboriginal language.
“We recognize that some families, particularly Aboriginals living on-reserve and off-reserve, face particular challenges in accessing CEA and other benefits,” said Valerie Glazer, spokesperson for Minister Duclos.
An increased allowance
On Saturday, when the new year of the allowance begins, the maximum annual payment will be $ 6639 for each child under six and $ 5602 for each child aged six to 17.
This is the second time the allowance has been increased since the Liberals agreed last year to adjust payments to inflation.
The benefit has been linked to a reduction of some 278,000 children living in poverty since its entry into force in July 2016.
Federal spending on benefits is expected to increase from $ 24.3 billion this year to $ 26.1 billion in early 2024.
The criteria unchanged
While the form is being redrafted, the eligibility criteria appear unchanged.
The rules state, among other things, that payments can only be made to a person who lives with a child under the age of 18 and who is primarily responsible for his care.
Informal caregivers who are not recognized as the child’s legal guardian “may have difficulty proving that they are primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of a child,” officials told Duclos in the information note.
His department was considering reviewing the eligibility criteria to find ways for families most at risk of living in poverty to benefit from the benefit, including “easier access for informal caretakers”.
Employment and Social Development Canada has indicated in an email that the eligibility rules for refugee claimants will not be changed. Asylum seekers can only benefit from these benefits if they have received a favorable decision on their asylum application, which can take 20 months.