Trudeau announces first steps on dental care, boosts to housing benefit, GST credit

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced new measures to help Canadians struggling with the rising cost of living — part of his government’s deal with the New Democrats to secure parliamentary support for the governing Liberals until 2025.

The Liberals say they will be rolling out the first stage of a dental care program, boosting the GST tax credit and providing a one-time increase to the Canada Housing Benefit.

“Our government has been hard at work on a plan that will deliver relief to millions of Canadians,” Trudeau said in St. Andrews, N.B. on Tuesday, where he is attending a Liberal caucus retreat.

“Today, we’re announcing additional targeted new measures that will support the middle class and people working hard to join it. These will be the very first pieces of legislation that we introduce when the House returns.”

The announcement was supposed to have been made on Sept. 8 in Vancouver, during a Liberal cabinet retreat. The sudden death of Queen Elizabeth II delayed its release.

The NDP pressed the Liberals to provide financial support to Canadians struggling with inflation through a boost to the GST tax credit. The Liberals voted against a motion proposing that relief back in May. 

The plan announced Tuesday will see the GST tax credit doubled for six months — a move the government says will affect 11 million Canadians and families who currently receive the tax credit.

Singles without children will get up to $234 more from the credit, couples with children will get up to $467 more and seniors can expect an average boost of $225 this year.

Fruits of the Liberal/NDP deal

The Liberals also are rolling out a one-time increase to the Canada Housing Benefit, providing up to $500 to 1.8 million Canadian renters struggling with housing needs.

The Canada Housing Benefit, developed by the federal government and the provinces, launched in 2020 with joint funding of $4 billion over eight years.

The federal government said the benefit will be available to families with an adjusted net income below $35,000 — or to singles with incomes below $20,000 — who pay at least 30 per cent of their income on rent.

Earlier this year, the Liberals and New Democrats struck a deal committing the NDP to voting with the minority Liberal government in the House of Commons on confidence votes until June of 2025. In exchange, the government agreed to meet a number of policy benchmarks along the way.

The New Democrats said that at least two of those commitments must be met before the Christmas break if the Liberals want the deal to stay intact. The first was the boost to the Canada Housing Benefit, while the second is the introduction of the first stage of a dental care program.

Trudeau announced that his government is introducing a Canada Dental Benefit for children under 12 who do not have access to dental insurance.

Low- and middle-income families with a combined income of under $90,000 can access up to $650 per year for the next two years for dental services.

Trudeau said the next step will be to extend dental care to under 18s, seniors and people with disabilities by the end of 2023, before full implementation of the program by 2025.

Singh: We made this happen

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh welcomed the announcement and said his party has been working hard since the spring to press the governing Liberals to help Canadians with the cost of living.

“We have won,” Singh said in Thunder Bay, Ont. “We have forced this government to deliver three things. Each of these items would not have happened but for the fact that we forced the government to deliver on this respect for people.”

Singh said more needs to be done to help Canadians struggling with inflation and his party will continue to put pressure on the Liberal government.

“We’re talking about putting money back in your pockets, helping out people and that’s what we’ve done and we’re going to continue to do even more of that,” he said.

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