Children Services Minister Janice Tarchuk has told staff in her department to take a closer look at how child-care subsidy applications are handled hours after the NDP accused the government of keeping low-income families in the dark Thursday.
Tarchuk has ordered her staff to address any inconsistencies with the program, along with verifying if all applications that were received within the last year were handled properly.
“The child-care subsidy is an important benefit for low-income and middle-income families and I’m concerned to hear that some families have not received the subsidy they qualify for,” said Tarchuk in a statement.
Depending on income, single parent families are eligible to receive close to $700 a month per child in Alberta through the subsidy regardless of how much they earn through child support.
But NDP MLA Rachel Notely says leaked internal documents obtained by her party show frontline staff are being told to “don’t ask and don’t tell” parents about the funding.
“Probably at least 500 single parent families in Edmonton are not receiving the amount of subsidy they should be and the government knows this — the situation has been going on now for almost a year, “ said Notley.
“And frontline workers are not being given the ability to correct the situation, so therefore, they are very, very frustrated.”
A new application for the funding doesn’t ask parents to declare child support, said Notely.
But if an old form is used, staff are being told to not tell parents they are eligible for the funding and the child support is eventually combined with their monthly income that could affect how much they can receive, says a message in the leaked memo.