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This article was published 30/6/2015 (1695 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA – It is perhaps the photo op of all photo ops for the governing party.
With less than four months to go until Canadians go to the polls, all the parties have ramped up their pre-campaign campaigning, and that trail took Minister of Social Development Pierre Poilievre to Winnipeg today to pose with some shiny new cheques for Canadian families.
Poilievre, who is known in Ottawa as one of the government’s attack dogs and is skilled at playing defence against controversial issues, posed this afternoon at the Winnipeg Production Centre as the first cheques for the expanded Universal Child Care Benefit rolled off the printers.
"The Government of Canada wants to ensure hard-working families start receiving their benefits as soon as possible," Poilievre is quoted as saying in a press release. "If you've got kids under 18, you qualify. It doesn't matter how much you make or the type of child care you choose."
The UCCB was created in 2006 as one of the first big election promises under the Conservative government. It replaced child-care agreements the previous Liberal government had made with each province and the Conservatives say they would rather give money directly to parents rather than create programs with the money.
The Conservatives hiked the payment this year from $100 to $160 a month for kids under six and from $0 to $60 a month for kids six and over.
But while waiting for all the paperwork to be completed, the first increased payments couldn’t roll out until July.
About 1.1 million families will receive their UCCB payment by cheque and about half of those cheques are printed in Winnipeg. The rest are printed at a production facility in Quebec.
Another 2.7 million families will receive their payments through direct deposit.
These first payments include the $360 back payment for the $60 a month for the first six months of the year. Kids under six will get an additional $160 for the July payment for a total of $520 in July, while kids over six will get an additional $60 for the July payment for a total of $420.
About 200,000 families in Canada that qualify for the money haven’t yet signed up for it.
Once fully rolled out, the new UCCB will cost the government around $8 billion a year.
It Is a popular program with parents, who pocket the money each month.
And it is a political nightmare for the Conservative’s opponents, who likely would want to scrap it to pay for other child care programs but who won’t because taking money from kids is a serious political no-no.
The NDP have pledged to maintain the UCCB on top of introducing a national, universal, $15-a-day daycare program. The Liberals are repackaging the UCCB into a new Child Canada Benefit that is income based. Wealthier families will get less than they do under the UCCB but low and lower-middle class households will get more.
NDP MP Pat Martin did not mince words when asked what he thought of the photo op Tuesday.
"The Conservatives are trying to buy your vote with your own money with about as much subtlety as a fart in a church service," said the always colourful MP for Winnipeg Centre.