Justin Trudeau’s $3.1B inflation-relief plan includes increase in GST rebate

Posted on September 13, 2022 in Delivery System

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TheStar.com – Politics/Federal
Sept. 13, 2022.   By Alex Ballingall, Ottawa Bureau

Trudeau said direct payments for dental care and housing, and a boost in GST rebates will help people with rising costs and pledged they would not fuel further inflation. 

St. Andrews By-The-Sea, N.B. — The Liberal government is promising to move quickly with $3.1 billion in new spending on measures to help Canadians struggling with decades-high inflation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that the first pieces of legislation the government tables after the return of Parliament on Sept. 20 will be to double the GST tax credit, provide dental care payments and increase housing benefits for millions of Canadians.

“The help we’re announcing today will make a big difference for the people who get it in a targeted way that will not stoke inflation,” Trudeau told reporters on a peer in this seaside town in New Brunswick.

Totalling $4.5 billion, the new measures include $3.1 billion in spending that wasn’t previously budgeted, according to a government news release.

The release says the tax credit increase will last for six months, cost $2.5 billion, and impact “roughly 11 million” individuals and households. Single people without children will get an extra $234 and couples with two children would receive an extra $467, according to the government.

The dental care payments are framed as a first step to achieving a national program to provide dental coverage for people without existing insurance, and is a key plank of the government’s confidence and supply deal with the opposition NDP. Under that agreement, the minority Liberal government promised to provide coverage for children under 12 from families that earn less than $90,000 by the end of 2022.

To meet that goal, the government says it will give more than $900 million in direct payments worth up to $1,300 per child over the next two years. This “will allow children under 12 to get the dental care they need while we develop a comprehensive national dental care program,” the government said.

The third measure is expected to cost $1.2 billion and provide 1.8 million people with a $500 increase their federal housing supports.

New Democrats have said they had to push the Liberal government to enact these policies. Trudeau was originally planning to unveil the measures last week, but put off the announcement after Queen Elizabeth II died.

The government had already committed to two of the measures — dental care and the housing top-up — in its co-operation deal with the NDP. But that accord does not include a commitment to hike GST rebates, a policy that the NDP has been demanding for months to help people deal with decades-high inflation.

One senior Liberal told the Star on Tuesday that they wouldn’t dispute the NDP’s claims, but that the government — as a centre-left administration — is naturally co-operating with another progressive party in Parliament. The NDP’s dental care proposal caught the Liberals’ eye when it was first announced during the 2019 election, the source said, and the government has also been considering the New Democrats’ call to boost GST rebates for several months.

Over the past three days, Liberals gathered in the quaint town of St. Andrews for a caucus retreat have stressed that economic issues and helping people cope with cost of living increases are the government’s top priorities for the fall session of Parliament.

On Tuesday morning, MPs rejected assertions from Pierre Poilievre, the new Conservative leader, that they are only acting under pressure from his critiques and appeals for lower taxes in recent months.

“What people care about is how much it costs for groceries, how much it costs for gas, how much it costs, to live down with inflation. And our job is to make sure that we lower the cost for Canadians,” said Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne.

Champagne also pushed back on Poilievre’s assertion that government regulations and “gatekeeping” are holding back economic growth. He cited his efforts to court international investment, including at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.

“At the end of the day, who’s creating jobs? Is it the leader of the opposition or is it the government?” Champagne said.

“Just watch who’s creating jobs in this country.”


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