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'We heard loud and clear from people ... that changes should be made,'
By: Kevin Maimann Metro Published on Tue Apr 25 2017
The Alberta government reminded low-income families Thursday that they could miss out on thousands of dollars if they don’t file their taxes.
Edmonton Social Planning Council Executive Director Susan Morrissey said the Alberta Child Benefit, which the government launched in late 2015, is a “poverty game changer."
“The bottom line is, regardless of your income, please fill out your tax return,” Morrissey said.
“You could be leaving money on the table that you could also be using for your families.”
Coupled with federal child benefit enhancements that took effect last summer, Morrissey said families with two kids could get up to $3,400 a year in tax-free benefits on top of their tax returns.
She said putting money directly into the pockets of low-income families is the most effective way to reduce child poverty.
'Non-taxable child benefits are the most effective way to reduce poverty,' new report says
CBC News Posted: Feb 09, 2017 4:39 PM MT Last Updated: Feb 09, 2017 4:39 PM MT
New child tax benefits from the provincial and federal governments are cited as a "game changers" for ending child poverty in a new report released Thursday by the Edmonton Social Planning Council.
A Profile of Poverty in Edmonton suggests the Alberta Child Benefit and the Canada Child Benefit will have a direct impact on families.
"Non-taxable child benefits are the most effective way to reduce poverty because they put money directly into the pockets of low-income families," the report states.
The report says that in 2014, 17.8 per cent of children in Edmonton — 34,220 kids ages 0 to 17 — lived in low-income families.
A family with two children making $30,000 a year will receive an additional $4,300 a year from the Canada Child Benefit and the Alberta Child Benefit.
The Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit also helps, the report says. The credit is given to low-income working families. The maximum benefit for a working family with two children is $1,457 a year.
The benefits mean the living wage calculated by the Edmonton Social Planning Council is lower for lone- and two-parent families in 2016 compared to the previous year.
The Alberta Child Benefit will make life more affordable for 130,000 families caring for 235,000 children in Alberta. With the tax filing deadline approaching, parents are urged to file their tax returns to be eligible for the Alberta Child Benefit and other financial supports.
Community organizations across Alberta are holding free tax preparation clinics for lower-income Albertans. Parents are encouraged to take advantage of these resources to ensure they aren’t missing out on opportunities for their children.
“Filing taxes is one of the best ways to ensure Albertans receive the supports they need, especially with respect to the Alberta Child Benefit, as families can become eligible by filing a tax return. Putting money directly into the pockets of vulnerable families is the most effective way to reduce child and family poverty.”
Susan Morrissey, executive director, Edmonton Social Planning Council
Three years after the creation of the first task force and three months after getting a multi-million dollar investment from city council EndPovertyEdmonton held its first event to release new information on poverty in the city Thursday.
The new anti-poverty organization has set itself the ambitious goal of lifting 10,000 Edmontonians out of poverty in the next five years, and co-chair Bishop Jane Alexander said the data shows a coordinated approach will be needed.
“All these people saying this is our bit, we can do this and make a difference,” Alexander said, looking around the event that drew representatives from two levels of government and organizations from around the city. “Now it’s more than just a hope, it’s a certainty that we are moving on this."
Still, the numbers, compiled by the Edmonton Social Planning Council, paint a picture of poverty as a persistent issue in the city that hasn’t been helped by a changing economic climate.