June 18, 2024

Inflation sets the tone for the return to Parliament in Ottawa

Minister Jean-Yves Duclos

The political game resumed Monday in Ottawa, with a return to Parliament on the theme of inflation and marked by the tabling of two bills intended to send checks stamped with a maple leaf to families, including one for dental care.

For their first entry into parliament since the summer break, federal elected officials had to bypass a man angry at the vaccination of children, a sign denouncing communism in hand. The upside-down Canadian flags waved by the few demonstrators recalled the start of the previous session, which took place under the horns of the Freedom Convoy.

Inside the House of Commons, the rising cost of living monopolized exchanges. To criticism of exaggerated spending from the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, the Trudeau government responded by detailing the new benefits of hundreds of dollars announced last week.

Before Canadian families can access it, however, two bills introduced Monday will first need to be passed.

Bill C-30 proposes to double the GST tax credit, which should send money to half of Canadian families, with a maximum amount of $467 for a family with two children, or 225 $ for seniors. This aid would cost $2.5 billion in public funds.

Another piece of legislation, C-31, has two measures: a one-time $500 check for poor tenants who pay too much rent, at a cost of $1.2 billion, and a new dental benefit for child care. under 12, estimated at 938 million.

Reviews and congratulations

The Conservative opposition argues that this scattering of measures is insufficient to offset the rising cost of living and adds to government spending, an alleged cause of inflation. “All of this will be vaporized by inflation, which is costing families over $2,000, not including the rising interest rates people are paying on their mortgages,” Poilievre said during question period.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) takes credit for these measures, which it says it imposed thanks to its agreement with the Liberals to let them govern the country until 2025.

The Bloc Québécois agrees with the idea of ​​reimbursing more GST, but is opposed in principle to checks for dental care, because this measure is perceived as an intrusion into Quebec’s jurisdiction. “We feel that this bill was only created to keep the Liberal majority in the House. It’s done quickly, it’s all crooked. It will be difficult for the Bloc Québécois to support that, ”said the party’s parliamentary leader, Alain Therrien.

According to him, Quebec would be at a disadvantage, since some dental care given to children under 10 is already paid for by health insurance, which means that fewer taxpayers will be able to get their bills reimbursed. He proposes to simply transfer these funds to Quebec.

Quebecers also eligible

In fact, Quebec families whose income is less than $90,000 per year, who receive the Canada child benefit and who do not have private dental insurance would be eligible for this assistance — on the condition that they undertake to pay the bill for care that is not covered by the province.

Even if annual exams and fillings are covered for all young Quebecers, parents must pay out of pocket for cleanings, descaling and the application of fluoride, in particular. “All of this can be very expensive. Especially for children who are going to see the dentist for the first time in their life”, illustrated the federal Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos.

Under the proposed legislation, even before going to see the dentist, parents will be able to request a check for up to $650 per year. If the price of the services does not reach this amount, they will be able to keep the difference, according to government officials who presented the details of the text to the media on Monday.

The Canada Revenue Agency, which will administer the two-year temporary program, will not be able to make medical judgments in determining whether or not dental care is appropriate. Parents will only have to provide the contact details of the dentist for possible checks. Officials will rely on a risk management system similar to the one put in place to detect cases of fraud affecting the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can assure Canadians it will not be a blank cheque. There are processes in place. […] There are checks that will be done, ”assured the Minister of National Revenue, Diane Lebouthillier in a press briefing.

Justin Trudeau will be able to respond in person to opposition criticism of the cost of living on Thursday: the federal prime minister is in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday for the United Nations General Assembly.

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