Ontario’s Trillium Benefit: A new way to help the poor
Ontario’s new monthly Trillium Benefit for low-income people brings the province one step closer to a guaranteed annual income, advocates say.
About 3.5 million low- and moderate-income Ontarians this week are receiving their first Trillium Benefit, a provincial initiative that combines three quarterly tax credits into a new monthly payment.
The benefit, which includes the provincial sales, property and energy tax credits, was first announced in the 2011 budget and provides monthly payments of up to $113 for a single person, $142 for a single parent and $124 for a senior.
Designed to help households better manage their monthly expenses by providing the money earlier and more frequently than before, the benefit, worth about $2.4 billion annually, is the first outside Quebec to be paid monthly through the tax system to all low- and moderate-income people. Quebec’s monthly “Solidarity Tax Credit” was also introduced this month.
Until now, only seniors, the disabled and parents with children received monthly benefits through the tax system. And it is why some social policy experts say the benefit sets the stage for the introduction of a guaranteed annual income.
“It puts the delivery platform in place,” said John Stapleton, a retired social services ministry official who now advises government and community agencies on policies to ease poverty.
“The next step would be to increase the amount of money available,” he said. Stapleton encouraged the government to move to monthly tax credits and also appears in a finance ministry video explaining the new benefit.
The benefit is part of the province’s poverty reduction strategy, said Children and Youth Minister Eric Hoskins who oversees the province’s anti-poverty file.
“This approach is the same as the one we use for the Ontario Child Benefit, which has helped lift 20,000 children out of poverty,” he said in an email.
Credit: Toronto Star