Feds redo child benefit forms amid concerns ‘at-risk’ families missing payments

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OTTAWA — The federal government is rolling out a simplified application form for the Canada Child Benefit so payments get to the people the program is supposed to help the most.

The decision comes months after the minister in charge, Jean-Yves Duclos, was briefed about mounting concerns that eligibility rules and the application itself for the Trudeau government’s signature child benefit may be acting as a barrier for some “at-risk” families.

While take-up rates are high, there are potentially thousands of eligible recipients who don’t receive the benefit because they are informal caregivers who aren’t recognized as legal guardians, or live on reserves and haven’t filed tax returns.

Duclos was told in a briefing note that the application would be overhauled to address concerns that it was too difficult to understand for some families, particularly newcomers to Canada.

The government says the new form is to be published this month just as the benefit goes up to keep up with increases in the cost of living.

On Saturday when the new benefit year begins, the maximum annual payment will increase to $6,639 for every child under age six, and $5,602 per child aged six to 17.