A Wildrose government would introduce a child tax credit only after huge annual surpluses start appearing.
That’s anticipated in about three years time, said Wildrose leader Danielle Smith in Red Deer on Thursday.
Smith, who announced the child tax credit in Edmonton earlier in the day, told news reporters that the program is being proposed with a balanced budget in mind. She was at the Collicutt Centre, where Red Deer South candidate Nathan Stephan and party supporters and their children were playing a game of soccer.
“When we put this proposal forward, it would come in effect once we are back running into surpluses of $250 million a year,” said Smith.
The Progressive Conservative provincial government projects a $1-billion deficit in the current fiscal year, 2012-2013.
Smith pledged that her party, if elected on April 23, would balance the books this year. The government would then begin running small surpluses next year.
“And so it would be somewhere between 2014 and 2015 that we would be able to implement this plan (of the child tax credit),” said Smith. “We want to make sure that we are back on solid financial footing before we give this break.”
The tax credit — the first component of the Wildrose Family Pack to be released — would give parents and guardians a $2,000 tax deduction for each child under 18. This means families will have an extra $200 per year for each child.
Smith said the program will cost about $130 million a year.
The Conservatives issued a news release soon after, contending the program will cost nearly $177 million, based on 884,645 children aged zero to 18 in Alberta, according to July 2011 data from Statistics Canada. The Tories wonder if some families would be left out of this Wildrose commitment.
“We know there are a number of families who are already below the amount of money you would have to earn before you start paying provincial income taxes,” replied Smith, when questioned by media.
“This (child tax credit) allows us to take even more families off the tax rolls, even more low-income families off the tax rolls.”
The Wildrose made its $130 million calculation based on an estimated number of families on the tax roll, Smith said.
In the hallway of Red Deer’s largest recreational centre, three families who were interviewed by the Advocate expressed general support for the child tax credit program.
Melanie Nessman, a Red Deer mother of four children, said she believes the tax credit is a good idea, especially when children are involved in activities outside the home.
“It would cost (the government) now, but it would be better for our future,” she said.
Red Deer’s Serena Macumber, also mother to four, said the tax credit would help mothers like her.
“It would help out a lot because it costs a lot to take care of all these kids,” said Macumber.
But she said she wouldn’t like the program if the funding was taken from someone else who might need it more.
Jordan St. Denis, a Red Deer father of two small children, said he’d prefer if the tax break was given to low-income families.
“You’d have to give the less income (families) more of a break and the wealthy, they shouldn’t get any breaks,” St. Denis said.