Ford government's child benefit cut 'doesn't make any sense': Hamilton anti-poverty advocate

Local anti-poverty advocates continue to raise the alarm over the province’s cut to the Transition Child Benefit (TCB) and what it could mean for some of Hamilton’s most vulnerable residents — children living in poverty.

Premier Doug Ford announced in April that the monthly benefit for families not eligible for the maximum Ontario Child Benefit and National Child Benefit Supplement would be cut as of Nov. 1.

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Tom Cooper, director of Hamilton’s Roundtable on Poverty Reduction, called the cut “cruel” and “nonsensical” while speaking on Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show.

“It doesn’t make economic sense and certainly morally, it’s very, very wrong,” Cooper said. “This is a program that goes to the most vulnerable children in society and helps them at least escape deep, deep poverty. And to cut this program just doesn’t make any sense.”

The TCB was introduced in 2008 by then-premier Dalton McGuinty to bridge the gap for infants and refugee children until they qualified for the Canada Child Benefit.

Cooper said the Ford government’s decision to cut the TCB will impact 1,800 children in Hamilton, with 87 per cent of those under the age of three.

The maximum amount that can be received under the benefit is $230 a month per child.

“So it’s much less than the Canada Child Benefit that families receive, but it’s important to help cover those essential costs of daily living,” Cooper said. “Ensuring that parents can purchase formula or diapers, or ensuring there’s a roof over the family’s head.

“By cutting this program, the provincial government is relegating these families to hunger, relegating them to homelessness and deep, deep despair. And so this is absolutely cruel.”

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Overall, the TCB costs the province $67 million a year, with $1.9 million of that going toward Hamiltonians.

When Global News reached out to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services about the elimination of the TCB, spokesperson Kristen Tedesco said those affected by the wind-down of the TCB have been notified directly, in advance of the Nov. 1 cut off date.

However, Tedesco would not comment further on the elimination of the program, saying “the matter may be the subject of litigation.”

On Thursday, Hamilton city councillors will exam their options on how they potentially could mitigate the expiring program during the emergency and community services committee meeting.

“There’s going to be a lot of pressures on city council over the next year or so, as more and more revelations from the provincial budget that was passed in the spring come down, but I think this really has to top the list,” Cooper said. “I think this is probably the cruellest position the provincial government has taken yet. And they’ve done some pretty silly things.

“But to cut this funding for the youngest, most vulnerable children in society, doesn’t make any sense by any level.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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