OTTAWA – Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre is touting the Conservative government’s enhanced child care benefit as boost for the economy while warning that Canadians should take heed of offshore financial chaos.
He used an event on Sunday at an Ottawa-based department store chain to flog the benefits of the lump sum payment, which will be paid out on July 20. The new benefit cheques are retroactive to Jan. 1 and provide a pre-election cash bump for families with children under 18.
With parents and young children, as well as aspiring Conservative candidates as his backdrop, Poilievre said the cash will prompt a welcome boost of consumer spending in the economy at a time of uncertainty, which includes the bankruptcy of Greece and the meltdown of the Chinese stock market.
Although, when asked, if it could be considered economic stimulus, he seemed reluctant to directly characterize it that way.
“This $3 billion injection into the mailboxes and bank accounts of Canadians comes at a perfect time to support not only our families, but our retailers, as they generate thousands of jobs for Canadians,” he said.
The enhanced benefit provides almost $2,000 per child per year in families with kids under six years of age, and $720 per year per child between the ages of six and 17.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged this weekend that the Canadian economy is in a downturn, but noted that the rest of the world is in the same boat.
The slump has caused four major banks to state they believe Canada is in recession. Additionally, a Statistics Canada report last week showed the economy lost 6,400 jobs in June.
There have been calls for stimulus spending, but Harper rejected the pleas during an event in Pickering, Ont. on Saturday.
Poilievre also made one last pitch for families who’ve not registered for the enhanced to benefit to get their paperwork in. The government estimated in the spring as many as 200,000 families had not signed up and it has been engaged in a PR campaign to get the word out.