“Today we are announcing additional, targeted, new measures that will support the middle class and people working hard to join it,” Trudeau said during a press conference in St. Andrews, N.B. on Sept. 13.
“These will be the very first pieces of legislation we introduce when the House returns.”
In its plan, the federal government will be doubling the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit for six months and giving a one-time top-up worth $500 to the Canada Housing Benefit for Canadians who spend at least 30 percent of their incomes on rent, Trudeau said.
The government will also provide up to $650 per year for dental care to children under 12 who do not have access to dental insurance.
In total, the measures are worth more than $4.5 billion, with the GST credit accounting for $2.5 billion of the total and the dental benefit adding up to around $1 billion.
When asked by reporters why the Liberals are confident the new measures won’t “make inflation worse,” Trudeau replied that “the most important thing is to understand that there are Canadians out there really hurting.”
“Yes, increases in the cost of living and challenges with inflation and disrupted supply chains that are global are affecting everyone,” Trudeau said. “But what we’re doing with these specific measures is targeting those most vulnerable—those who are most hard hit by the increases [in] inflation.”
“These are things that will make a difference in people’s lives right now,” he added, “but they are also sufficiently targeted, that we are confident that they will not contribute to increased inflation.”
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said during a Sept. 13 press conference that the NDP “forced this government” to pass the measures the Liberals announced today.
“Each of these items would not have happened but for the fact that we forced the government to deliver on this respect for people,” said Singh during the press conference in Thunder Bay, Ont.
In March, the NDP had promised to back the Liberals on key issues for the next three years in return for a number of commitments, including national pharma care and dental plans.
The dental benefit is the “first stage of the government’s plan to deliver dental care for families with income under $90,000 who do not have access to dental insurance,” according to a news release from the Prime Minister’s office.
The benefit will temporarily be available only to uninsured children under 12, but the government said that a “new national dental program is under development,” which aims to expand dental coverage by 2023 to uninsured Canadians under age 18, seniors, and disabled people.
The government also says it is aiming to implement a full national dental plan by 2025 that will cover all families with annual incomes under $90,000.
In addition, the government says there are 1.8 million Canadians who will be eligible to take advantage of its promised one-time $500 top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit.