Starting today, Canadians eligible for the enhanced Canada Workers Benefit will begin receiving the first of three automatic advance payments without having to apply.
“We believe that a strong country, a healthy country, is a country with a strong and effective social safety net,” Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Charlottetown, P.E.I., on Friday.
“It is really important to recognize how important work is to families, to people and to our country, but also to recognize that our lowest-paid, very often most essential workers, are not earning enough to get by.”
When the fall economic statement was released, Freeland announced that her government would rework the current Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) — a refundable tax credit that tops up the incomes of more than four million workers — to help Canadians struggling with rising inflation.
The government said it’s issuing what it calls “advance payments” to those eligible for the CWB, meaning recipients won’t have to wait for tax time to collect what they’re owed.
The CWB is a refundable tax credit that boosts the earnings of qualifying low- and modest-income workers. It is indexed to inflation each year, which means it will rise with the cost of living.
Finance Canada said in a media statement that this year, the benefit will provide up to $2,616 for eligible families and up to $1,518 for qualifying single workers.
How the advance payments work
Canadian workers who received the benefit in 2022 will automatically get the first of three advance payments from the Canada Revenue Agency without having to apply.
The second automatic payment arrives in October, the third lands in January and the final payment will come after eligible workers file their 2023 tax returns.
Rather than each payment being equal to a quarter of the total annual refund, the advance payments are equivalent to the minimum entitlement for the year and won’t decrease even if family or individual income decreases from the previous tax year.
A single worker who earns $25,000 a year would have received a refund of about $1,200 last year.
Under the new advance payments structure, that worker will get $200 in each of their July, October and January payments, with the final $600 being distributed after 2023 taxes are filed.
Freeland pointed to the changes to the CWB as one of several measures her government has introduced to help Canadians cope with the rising cost of essential goods and services.
Other measures she mentioned include the national child-care plan, the Canada Dental Benefit, the grocery rebate and the Canada Child Benefit.
Speaking in Sudbury, Ont., Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said “Canadians want a government that works for people who work” and blamed the rising cost of living on the Liberals and the New Democrats.
“Look at the results,” he said. “What are the people in Sudbury getting for this Trudeau-NDP government? They’ve got a 100 per cent increase in rent, a 100 per cent increase in mortgage payments … and we’ve seen food prices rise by almost 25 per cent.”