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Government expects it will make a 'real difference' for low-income families

CBC News Posted: Mar 27, 2015 2:41 PM MT Last Updated: Mar 27, 2015 4:41 PM MT

Low-income families will keep more money in their pocket thanks to a new tax credit introduced in the provincial budget this week.

The Alberta Working Family Supplement applies to families earning less than $41,000.

And while the initiative is well received by groups such as the Edmonton social planning council, which advocates for low-income families, it’s being criticized for not coming into effect right away.

“Budgets are about making choices and obviously they’ve decided to put some things ahead of their commitment to increasing this particular benefit,” said John Kolkman with the planning council.

During an announcement at the Norwood Child and Family Resource Centre in Edmonton, Premier Jim Prentice assured working families that his government will live up to its promise.

“You have my word that what we are bringing forward is the plan,” said Prentice

Starting July 2016, working families with one child will be eligible for an annual benefit of $1,100, an additional $550 will be provided for each of the next three children. The Alberta government expects the tax credit will help about 75,000 families.

"In spite of being employed and working very hard, all too often there's not enough money for working families, families that have children in particular and this has been a special concern of mine," Prentice said Friday.

"We believe that this will make a real difference for parents, for the children, and in particular for hard-pressed families."

Kolkman supports the tax credit for the families that he works with but says the government should have gone further.

“The benefit would have been better had it also been made available to low-income families on income support where the parents can’t work, through no fault of their own,” he said.  

The government also introduced payments to an existing benefit for low-income families called the Alberta Family Employment credit. That initiative also becomes available in 2016.