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B.C. child benefit changes do little for middle-income families: mother

Last Updated Feb 20, 2019 at 7:06 pm PST

(iStock Photo)

Changes to the province's child benefits have one mother worried her family could lose precious dollars

The Victoria mom says the changes could leave her family stuck between rising costs and shrinking benefits

The new Child Opportunity Benefit was unveiled in Tuesday's budget

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – A B.C. mother says changes to the province’s child benefit program could leave her family stuck between rising taxes and shrinking rebates.

Under the new Child Opportunity Benefit (COB), unveiled in Tuesday’s budget, families would receive monthly rebates until a child is 18 years old, instead of the current age limit of six. In addition, the maximum annual benefit for families making less than $25,000 annually has more than doubled to $1,600 per year.

However, the benefit is cut off if a family with one child makes more than $97,487 annually or if a two-child family makes $114,487 annually. The previous annual income cut-off for a family was $150,000.

“When you’re in this middle income where you’re not wealthy, it hurts because you make too much to qualify for any benefits, but you don’t make enough that the small increases to costs don’t hurt,” said Lori, who lives in Victoria.

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The mother of a seven-year-old son and another adult child, Lori says her husband is the sole income earner of the family. As a member of the Royal Canadian Navy, his salary can vary depending on if he is sent out on a ship, and the few extra dollars could mean the difference between getting the benefit or not.

She says on top of the rising carbon tax, and increased ICBC and BC Hydro costs, it is becoming harder for her family to make ends meet.

“When I read that budget, I thought the NDP would be doing a lot more for families,” she said, adding the amount given to families would do little annually to cover costs such as child care, food, clothing or education. “It’s great that the lower income will get a bit of a bump, but low-income single parents also qualify for daycare subsidy.”

She says her family would likely only receive around $50 per month.

The 2015 median household income for families with at least one child in B.C. was $111,736 while single parents brought home a median income of $51,056, according to the 2016 Statistics Canada census.

The new benefit doesn’t kick in until Oct. 1, 2020.