Liberals’ bump in child benefits fuels poverty rate drop, Statistics Canada says

OTTAWA — Fewer Canadians are living under the official poverty line than at any time in the last decade, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday

The agency laid the credit for the drop on a combination of a buoyant economy and the Liberals signature child benefit.

The national statistics office says that in 2017, the most recent year available, 3.4 million Canadians, or 9.5 per cent of the population, lived below the poverty line the government officially adopted late last year — including 622,000 children — which is the lowest the agency reported going back to 2006.

The drops since the Liberals took office in 2015 were also noted in the agency’s release: 278,000 fewer children living below the poverty line in 2017 — the first full year of the benefit — compared to 2015 when the Liberals took office.

Statistics Canada said an increase in the value of child benefits, coupled with gains in market income, put more money into the pockets of families in 2017 — which Liberals touted Tuesday as a political and policy victory.

“It certainly shows a program that is simple for the government to manage, simple for families to receive, and fair for everyone … is a good thing when it comes to making more Canadians able to make ends meet,” Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in an interview.

The Liberals introduced the income-tested Canada Child Benefit midway through 2016, replacing a previous system of tax credits and the Conservatives’ universal child care benefit. The agency calculates that between 2016 and 2017, a couple with children saw their median benefit rise by $1,200, while lone parents received an extra $1,300.

Duclos suggested numbers will drop further, particularly once the Canada Workers Benefit launches next month.

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