CRA jumps the gun on changes to Child Tax Benefit

CRA mistakenly applied changes to the Child Tax Benefit six months too early, short-changing Canadian families.

On Sept.19 a mistake by the Canada Revenue Agency was made public.

The CRA mistakenly applied changes to the Child Tax Benefit six months too early, short-changing Canadian families.

The Conservative government made changes to the child tax benefit in the 2010 budget. The new legislation was supposed to take effect on June 1, 2011 but the CRA started applying the new rules in January, six months too early.

As a result, a $20 million error that affected nearly 20,000 Canadian families who received $1,000 to $1,500 less than they were entitled to.

New Democrats called on the government to take immediate action to reimburse the affected families, many of whom depend on the Child Tax Benefit to meet every day needs like rent, utilities and food.

If your family was receiving the Child Tax Benefit between January and June last year, please keep an eye on the CRA website for updates: cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/cctb/menu-eng.html. I will also post updates on my website at jeancrowder.ca.

Under the Conservatives, the majority of Canadians can no longer count on Employment Insurance.

It’s bad enough that six in 10 Canadians do not qualify for EI when they lose their employment.

But in their 2012 omnibus budget, the government changed the rules again to cut you off EI unless you accept any job the deemed “suitable.”

That means teachers, nurses, tradespeople and other specialists will leave their careers paths to take low-wage jobs.

Now we’re learning that the new rules around part-time work on EI also announced in Budget 2012 are not working the way anyone expected.

The old rules allowed people to earn up to 40 percent of their EI benefits before their wages were clawed back. The new rules include a claw back of 50 per cent of every single dollar earned.

But workers at minimum-wage jobs are finding the new rules remove any incentive to find a few extra hours of work since they can only earn half their normal wages, which often doesn’t cover the costs of going to work, like transportation or child care.

The only bright spot is that this is a pilot project, not a new policy. So there is still an opportunity to make it work for low-wage workers and actually encourage people to find those part-time jobs.

I encourage you to email the minister responsible, Diane Finley, at diane.finley@parl.gc.ca and ask her to make EI work for all Canadians.