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One-fifth of on-reserve families to miss out on child benefit boost: Duclos

Thousands of Indigenous families living on-reserve will miss out on a boost to the Canada Child Benefit when the more lucrative payments hit parents’ bank accounts Friday, even as Liberals put on a national show to promote their signature family benefit.

Almost every eligible family in the country receives the monthly, means-tested benefit, but take-up rates for families on-reserve consistently lag behind the wider population — largely chalked up to lower tax filing rates among Indigenous families.

Tax returns are the basis for calculating payments to families.

The government now estimates one in every five Indigenous families on-reserve who should qualify are not receiving the benefit, an improvement from two years ago when about half of families on-reserve missed out on it.

Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos called the issue a key focus for the government over the last year of its mandate, saying the benefit is missing too many children from a population that tends to have larger families, and is more likely to experience poverty.

“These families need and deserve the (child benefit) even more than the average Canadian family,” Duclos said in an interview this week.

“We’ve got to improve on delivery of the (child benefit) and I would say this is the number one priority in the months to come.”

Priority number one on Thursday for the Liberals was to promote the benefit.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited an Ontario summer camp for children from low-income families, Duclos went to four different spots in Ontario, and five other cabinet ministers fanned out for public events. All told, some 150 Liberal MPs were scheduled to be talking about the benefit in their communities and more promoting it online as its value is set to increase with inflation.

Read more: One-fifth of on-reserve families to miss out on child benefit boost: Duclos

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