More children from low-income families will qualify for full or partial benefits with changes to the Nova Scotia Child Benefit that take effect July 1.
“This goes hand-in-hand with our intention to provide supports that strengthen our families and communities,” said Joanne Bernard, Minister of Community Services.
“The child benefit also helps to reduce poverty and promote participation in the workforce.”
The Nova Scotia Child Benefit income threshold will rise from $25,000 to $26,000 on July 1, bringing about 1,300 more children under the program’s umbrella.
Other families already in the program will get a modest improvement, on a graduated scale. Families with incomes between $18,000 and $26,000 qualify for partial benefits, and will receive average increases of $40 a year for one-child families, $100 a year for two-child families and $160 a year for families with three children. This will affect about 10,000 children already covered.
Close to 40,000 children are in the program. Full benefits for families with incomes less than $18,000 are:
— one child $625 a year ($52 monthly)
— two children $825 a year ($68 monthly)
— three children $900 a year ($75 monthly)
Parents and Children Together is a Family Resource Centre in Cole Harbour. It serves a wide range of participants, including about 350 middle- and low-income families and their 500 children. Heather Johnstone valued the centre as a parent 27 years ago, and has remained involved.
“I’ve worked here for 25 years and see the daily struggles that low-income families have in meeting rent, utilities, food, transportation and child-care costs,” said Ms. Johnstone, the centre’s executive director.
“Raising the qualifying income level to $26,000 for the child benefit will definitely help more parents who are working part-time, or at minimum wage, to make ends meet. For a family with three children, $900 per year can certainly make a difference.”
The province invests about $2.2 million monthly in support. The Nova Scotia Child Benefit began in 2001. Everyone who receives it also automatically receives the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the National Child Benefit Supplement.
“Today’s announcement, in addition to the $2 million in new money for family resource centres, is part of government’s plan to help parents build healthier families and stronger communities,” said Ms. Bernard.