Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Smoke and Mirrors

The Universal Child Care Benefit is a new form of direct financial assistance that provides parents with resources to support the child care choices that help them balance work and family as they see fit. The Universal Child Care Benefit is paid to parents in monthly instalments of $100 per month per child under the age of six.

For some parents, this might mean using the money to pay part of their current child care fees. A parent who stays at home may want to use it on a preschool program or for occasional care by a friend or neighbour. The benefit may also be used to purchase learning materials that parents might not be able to buy for their children otherwise.

Parents may even wish to deposit all or part of their benefit into a Registered Education Savings Plan.

Funny, I don't recall that part being mentioned in the last election. The UCCB was pitched as childcare choice for parents. The Conservatives did a great job, using their push for universality, of throwing money at the middle-class through the tax system.

Also, there are persistent problems getting money into the hands of those who will benefit from the UCCB the most - higher income individuals. Parents of almost 100,000 children had simply not applied for the benefit and would not get it until they did. These parents are from wealthier, one-income families and could actually retain more of the $1,200 annual allowance than lower income, single parents because of the way it is taxed (it applies to the lower income of a two-parent family). The Caledon Institute has an excellent report on this.

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