Child benefits have significant potential to reduce homelessness and the need for emergency shelter beds by putting more money into the hands of low-income parents. They also can (and do) reduce child poverty, though not always as much as governments claim. And because they do not carry the same stigma as other forms of poverty-reduction initiatives (such as social assistance and social housing), they’re also popular among voters—certainly more popular than social assistance benefits for adults. Many elected officials are therefore more eager to create and enhance child benefits than they are to spend on other forms of poverty-reduction.
Since they were first established child benefits in Canada have changed significantly in their intention, their recipients, and their method of delivery. Here’s an eight-step guide to that evolution.