Social programs must benefit everyone

Posted on August 1, 2013 in Inclusion Delivery System – opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: How Ottawa subverts the work ethic, Opinion July 26
Jul 31 2013.   Simon Lewchuk

The C.D. Howe Institute is right to call on the federal government to review how benefits are clawed back as income rises. If someone on low-income is able to find a job, they should not be worse off as a result. And, yes, investments in universal, in-kind programs such as affordable childcare and public transportation would support low-income families immensely.

But we should treat their recommendation to invest in such programs rather than enhancing tax benefits for low-income families with extreme caution — and suspicion.

Tax transfers to low-income individuals such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit and National Benefit Supplement, while not perfect, improve the lives of millions of children and their families by helping them stay out of poverty. Such benefits also put money directly in the hands of those who need it, trusting that they best know how to spend it.

The C.D. Howe Institute would have us transfer less money to those in need but doesn’t seem too concerned about the cost of non-refundable boutique tax giveaways, such as the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, that disproportionately benefit high income earners and result in millions of dollars in foregone tax revenue, public money that would truly be better spent on social and community programs that benefit all.

Simon Lewchuk, Policy Analyst, Citizens for Public Justice, Ottawa

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