Publications
October 2015
PFD | Family

Election promises and family law: Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB)

By Eloïse Pion Lawyer

In January, the Conservative government amended the family support program by increasing the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) and abolishing the child tax credit for children under the age of 18.

The UCCB now provides $160 per month per child under the age of six and $60 per month per child between the ages of 6 and 18. However, since the UCCB is a taxable benefit (except for families that earn less than $20 000 annually), much of the amount will be paid back as income tax.

ELECTION PROMISES

The Liberal party plans to replace the UCCB with the new, non-taxable Canada Child Benefit, which will provide every family with a child that earns less than $150 000 annually with more than they receive under the current system.

The NDP intends to implement a nationwide $15/day universal child care program much like the one in Québec. The provinces that choose to opt out (such as Québec, for example, which already has its own system) will be able to do so with full compensation in federal transfers.

The Bloc Québécois has said that it would make the UCCB non taxable.

Finally, the Green Party supports extensive tax reform to set a minimum income threshold and ensure a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) for all Canadians. The party will eliminate the UCCB in favour of the GLI program.

THE UCCB AND SPOUSAL SEPARATION

When a couple divorces or separates, the after-tax amount of the UCCB determines the net child care costs that must be paid on a pro rata basis from the parents' incomes. It is therefore not the amount spent in child care that will be shared between the parents but rather the net amount after considering the various tax benefits.

It will be interesting to follow how the courts respond to the implementation of the new UCCB and whether the benefit will be considered for purposes other than establishing net child care costs. The UCCB is now paid out for children ages 6 to 18 but there are no child care fees for children 13 years and older in light of their age.

Software programs such as Jurifamille and AliForm are used to calculate net child care costs. For more information on these costs or for help to determine the share of the costs that each parent will be required to pay upon separation, do not hesitate to contact an attorney in PFD's family law group.