The House of Commons opened its fall session this week, and, like other MPs, I returned to Ottawa with concerns gathered through the summer of travelling the riding and hearing from constituents.
In the past, I have talked about the concerns of Canadians struggling to keep up with the basic costs of living– food, rent, bills, gas and health. I have also mentioned some of the solutions the NDP was pressing the government to enact to make a real difference in this struggle for Canadians who need assistance the most.
After months of that pressure, I was happy to hear the government agreed to act on some of the main demands of the NDP to bring much-needed inflation relief in the coming months. Earlier this week, the government delivered on its promises to the NDP and tabled two pieces of legislation with targeted support for those struggling the most.
The first is the Cost of Living Relief Act, No 1 that doubles the GST rebate for six months. That will help 11 million people who already receive the credit, including about half of Canadian families with children and more than half of Canadian seniors.
Canadians without children will receive up to an extra $234 and couples with two children will receive up to an extra $467 this year. Seniors will receive an extra $225 on average. No application is necessary and qualifying Canadians should see the benefit as soon as legislation passes.
The Cost of Living Relief Act, No 2 includes the Canada Dental Benefit, that will be provided to children under 12 who do not have access to dental insurance, starting this year. Direct payments totalling up to $1,300 per child over the next two years (up to $650 per year) will be provided for dental care services. This is the government’s interim plan to deliver dental care to families with no coverage now and a household income under $90,000.
It will allow children under 12 to receive dental care while the government develops the national dental care program we pushed them to provide.
It also includes the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit that would deliver a $500 payment to 1.8 million renters who are struggling with the cost of housing.
The federal benefit will be available to applicants with incomes below $35,000 for families, or below $20,000 for individuals, who pay at least 30 per cent of their adjusted net income on rent. The CRA application portals for the Canada Dental Benefit and Canada Housing Benefit will be available to Canadians following the passing of the legislation.
This relief is only the initial boost Canadians need and we’re continuing to force the government to do more. Unfortunately, the government has not agreed to our demand for an excess profit tax for oil and gas companies and big box grocery retailers that have made billions of dollars in profits on the backs of everyday Canadians. Corporate profits are rising twice as fast as inflation, while wages are only rising half as fast. The government has missed an opportunity to make extremely profitable corporations pay their fair share.
We’ve said from the beginning we can help people without making inflation worse, and economists agree that the benefits announced this week will not put further pressure on inflation.
The NDP has used its minority government powers in the past to create our universal health care system and we’ll keep fighting to include dental care and pharmacare to relieve pressure on the health care crisis, and, as always, we will remain focused on solutions that help all Canadians.
Richard Cannings is the NDP MP for South Okanagan–West Kootenay
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.