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The Canadian Government has a goal of reducing poverty by 50 per cent by 2030. Here are five significant programs in place to help achieve this target.
People experience poverty in very different ways. “For some individuals, it might be a lack of adequate income support,” says Michèle Biss, Ottawa-based human rights lawyer and legal education and outreach coordinator at Canada Without Poverty. “For others, it might be a lack of childcare options or the incredibly high cost of housing.” For this reason, there are several government programs in place that are aimed at helping those living below the poverty line.
“All levels of government provide social service programs,” says Biss. While there are a number of income assistance programs in place (Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan, among others), it’s the programs listed in the Canada Poverty Reduction Strategy, which was released in August 2018, that have been gaining a lot of attention. And for good reason.
Biss says the Canada Poverty Reduction Strategy is worth noting because it “highlighted a number of changes that had happened within policy, particularly for specific assistance programs offered by the Federal government and set this overall target to reduce poverty by 50 per cent by 2030.” To help achieve this target, there have been, according to the Strategy’s website, “significant investments for children, seniors, low-wage workers and other vulnerable Canadians that are having immediate impacts on reducing poverty.”
Below, we look at five of the government-funded programs in more depth to see how they are working toward the ultimate goal of reducing poverty in Canada.
Canada Child Benefit
What it is: Launched in 2016, the CCB is a monthly tax-free payment that families receive to help with the costs of raising children. According to Biss, this program is “one that you can see has experienced some major increases in recent years and more applicability for individuals.”
How it works: The payment families receive is based on total household income and those with a lower income are eligible for more money than those with a larger income. A recent report from the government stated that the maximum annual amount that families can receive was boosted in July 2018 to be $6,496 per child under the age of six and $5,481 for children between 6 and 17 years old.
Who it helps: Low- and middle-income families. Finance Canada reported that roughly 65% of families receiving the highest amounts are single parents and of this, 90% are single mothers.
Who is eligible: A Canadian parent, or parents, who are living with and are the primary care-giver(s) of the child. Those who do not file taxes are not eligible.
Guaranteed Income Supplement
What it is: Also referred to as “Senior’s Welfare”, GIS is a monthly tax-free benefit to assist low-income seniors receiving Old Age Security (OAS) pension.
How it works: The benefit is calculated based off of current or previous income and is paid monthly in addition to the OAS amount. One thing to note is that an application must be filed in order to receive GIS, it is not applied automatically.
Who it helps: Low-income seniors receiving OAS. According to Service Canada, GIS helped 1.94 million people in 2017, which is roughly one-third of pensioners.
Who is eligible: Those living in Canada, receiving an OAS pension, which you have to be 65 years to apply for, and your income (or household income) is lower than the maximum annual threshold. For immigrants, eligibility is based off how long you have been living in Canada, among other guidelines. Those who do not file taxes are not eligible.
National Housing Strategy
What it is: A 10-year investment plan (worth $40 billion) focused on providing more affordable housing options. According to the National Housing Strategy’s website, it “will cut chronic homelessness in half, remove 530,000 from housing-need and invest in the construction of up to 100,000 new affordable homes.”
How it works: A $4.3 billion investment, funded through federal and provincial governments, will go towards helping to build and protect community and social housing, as well as strategies to keep housing affordable. A $2.2 billion investment to the Homelessness Partnering Strategy is intended for the creation of local housing options, with a goal to “cut chronic homelessness in Canada by 50 per cent within the next 10 years.” And $300 million will be invested in helping Indigenous peoples find affordable housing options in their community.
Who it helps: “The strategy will first focus on the most vulnerable Canadians,” the NHS website explains. “This includes women and children fleeing family violence, seniors, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, those dealing with mental health and addiction issues, veterans and young adults.”
Who is eligible: All Canadians.
Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program
What it is: Formerly known as the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Program, this service provides Indigenous people—a population which makes up roughly one-quarter of shelter users—with different programs and training to help find a job or develop skills in relation to their career.
How it works: According to the Government of Canada’s budget plan, “Budget 2018 proposes to invest $2 billion over five years, and $408.2 million per year ongoing” toward the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training program. The plan states that this investment will support roughly 15,000 more Canadians with finding jobs and developing career-related skills. There are over 90 Indigenous agreement holders across the country which act as service points to access these programs.
Who it helps: Indigenous people across Canada, who experience higher unemployment rates than non-Indigenous people, according to Statistics Canada.
Who is eligible: According to the Government of Canada’s website, “All Indigenous people, regardless of status or location, may access its programs and services.”
Canada Workers Benefit
What it is: A new and improved version of the Workers Income Tax Benefit that will launch in the 2019 tax year. The Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) will provide low-income Canadians with a refundable tax credit to supplement their wages.
How it works: Calculated off of tax returns, CWB credit will be a proposed 26 per cent of earned income over $3,000 and can amount to a maximum of $1,355 for someone who is single without children and $2,335 for families. According to a report by the Department of Finance, this program will be made possible by a $1 billion investment from the Government.
Who it helps: Low-income, working Canadians.
Who is eligible: Those living in all provinces and territories other than Alberta, British Columbia, Nunavut and Quebec.