Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tory, Suburban Ridings Gain the Most from Enriched Child Benefits: CP Analysis

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tory, Suburban Ridings Gain the Most from Enriched Child Benefits: CP Analysis

Article excerpt

Enriched child benefit favours Tory suburbs


OTTAWA - Most of what is billed as the largest, one-time benefit payment in federal history is likely to hit suburban voters living in federal ridings where the Conservatives can be considered the party to beat, an analysis by The Canadian Press shows.

Number-crunching based on the last census shows that many of the ridings in line to get the biggest cheques from the newly increased Universal Child Care Benefit are in suburban Alberta and the all-important ridings that surround Toronto -- and they usually have a history of tilting Tory.

Only two of the top 20 destinations for the enriched UCCB payments landing on July 20 are locations where the opposition NDP would be considered the favourite; and one more in the top 20 would be considered a Liberal seat.

That leaves 17 seats that could be considered Conservative-leaning, home to the voters who could receive the biggest financial windfall when almost $3 billion in child care benefit payments are mailed on Monday -- three months before election day in October.

The majority of spending continues to go to Conservative ridings -- 15 of the top 20 -- even after adjusting the payments to take into account the estimated percentage of families who haven't signed up for the enhanced benefit.

Opposition parties have criticized the government for giving out the increased benefit payment, backdated to the start of the year, as an election ploy to buy votes.

But all three main parties have released platform planks designed to woo families who tend to concentrate in the key suburban ridings that could swing the federal election.

"The demographic that (parties) are all fighting for are the parents, the kids, the families that are just starting out. So this is why this puts (child care) up on the agenda," said Kathy Brock, an expert on party politics from Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.

Since 2006, the government has handed out monthly payments of $100 for every child in Canada under age six. That changes on Monday as the payment rise to $160 a month, and children age six to 17 earn their parents $60 per month.

The increased payments are retroactive to the start of the year, meaning the payments this month will be higher than any before: up to $520 for children under six, and up to $420 for every child six to 17.

The government doesn't decide where in the country the money will go; it does get to decide who should receive the money.

To get a more detailed picture of where those families live, The Canadian Press used census data from Statistics Canada to plot the location of children under age 18 in each of Canada's 338 ridings, and then calculated how much each riding would receive in new monthly child care benefit spending.

The totals were also adjusted to reflect the percentage of families in each province who have not signed up for the benefit to see if there was any marked differences in outcomes, which there was not.

The analysis then used an Elections Canada study that transposed the outcome in each of those 338 ridings based on the poll-by-poll breakdown of votes from the 2011 campaign. …

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