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QUESTION PERIOD — National Revenue

Canada Child Benefit

March 20, 2019

My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. The Canada Child Benefit is a cornerstone of Canada’s poverty reduction strategy. On February 26 of this year, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development issued a statement that the government’s poverty reduction target has been met three years ahead of schedule. He attributed the success to the Canada Child Benefit, which he said “. . . is having a significant positive impact on the income of families.”

Given the importance of the Canada Child Benefit to Canadian families, why is it that some of the most marginalized families in Canada, including refugee claimants, temporary foreign workers and people with precarious immigration status, who work and pay income tax like other Canadians, are being denied the benefit they need to support their children, including those born in Canada?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate) [ - ]

I thank the honourable senator for her question. I would like to confirm, as the senator suggests, that the Canada Child Benefit has led to significant improvement in the lives of nine out of ten Canadian families and lifted almost 300,000 children out of poverty.

With respect to the issue of ensuring that those who are entitled to the benefits are aware of the benefits, I can report that the Canada Revenue Agency is working closely with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to ensure that the benefits issues are addressed quickly for those who are entitled to receive them.

Thank you for that response, government representative.

The Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic has filed a constitutional challenge to section 122.6 of the Income Tax Act which denies access to the Canada Child Benefit to marginalized families. Would the government amend section 122.6 of the Income Tax Act to allow all Canadian taxpayers, regardless of immigration status, access to the benefit?

Senator Harder [ - ]

While I cannot commit the government to such an action, I can assure the honourable senator I will bring this to the attention of the minister concerned.

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