No Child Should Live in Poverty: New report calls for end to discrimination in the Canada Child Benefit

September 7, 2018

As kids across Canada go back to school this month, a new report details how some low-income families are excluded from a government program that would help them afford school supplies, as well as rent and food for their children.

Every Child Counts: Making sure the Canada Child Benefit is a benefit for all children, released by a coalition of legal clinics and an anti-poverty network, documents the ways in which the Canada Child Benefit discriminates against certain children in Canada due to their parents' immigration status. The report outlines the hardship that parents without regularized immigration status face, despite their disproportionate risk of living in poverty, due to their exclusion from the Canada Child Benefit.

"The Canada Child Benefit is a powerful tool that the Prime Minister has acknowledged plays an important role in both driving economic growth and reducing child poverty," said Jackie Esmonde, Staff Lawyer at the Income Security Advocacy Centre and the report's primary author. "Estimates are that the Canada Child Benefit will take up to 300,000 children in Canada out of poverty. But because it only benefits some children, it widens the gaps for others."

One of the eligibility criteria for the Canada Child Benefit, as specified in the Income Tax Act, is the immigration status of the child's parents. As a result, many children in Canada whose families are striving to make Canada their home permanently are unfairly and arbitrarily excluded, including:

  • Children of refugee claimants awaiting a determination of their claim
  • Children who cannot leave Canada for reasons beyond their control, such as those whose parents are from countries where Canada has issued a moratorium on removal because of dangerous conditions
  • Children who are Canadian citizens, but whose parents do not fall within the limited immigration eligibility categories.

Read more: No Child Should Live in Poverty: New report calls for end to discrimination in the Canada Child Benefit