Report 4—Canada Child Benefit—Canada Revenue Agency

At a GlanceReport 4—Canada Child Benefit—Canada Revenue Agency

  Why we did this audit

  • The Canada Child Benefit is a key public policy tool for reducing poverty and inequality by providing help to low‑income families.
  • It is important that the first payment be made in the shortest possible time frame because eligible families entitled to the benefit need the financial support to help with the cost of raising children.

  Our findings

  • The assessment of Canada Child Benefit eligibility was well-managed and payments were accurate and timely.
  • Through the Canada Child Benefit program, the government provided support to more families at the beginning of the pandemic.
  • By law, the primary caregiver is presumed to be the female parent. Given the diversity of families today in Canada, this concept presented difficulties for applicants and the agency.

  Key facts and figures

  • The formula adopted for the additional one-time payment of up to $300 at the beginning of the pandemic, allowed for close to 265,000 higher-income families not previously entitled under the Canada Child Benefit to receive payments totalling almost $88 million.
  • The female presumption concept is a legislative requirement and only 1 payment per household can be issued under the Income Tax Act.

  Our recommendations

  • To improve the administration of the Canada Child Benefit program, the Canada Revenue Agency should
  • ensure that the list of documents that applicants can submit are suitable for assessing eligibility
  • require valid proof of birth for all applications
  • improve receipt of data from other government organizations to obtain greater assurance that the eligibility conditions are met
  • The Canada Revenue Agency should enhance its procedures and communications to mitigate the confusion and sensitivities caused by the female presumption concept.

See full list of recommendations and responses

United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals logoUnited Nations’ sustainable development goal number 1: No poverty

The Canada Child Benefit program supports the goal of no poverty (Goal 1) of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In the course of our work, we heard that certain vulnerable populations in Canada have difficulty accessing the Canada Child Benefit and similar programs. In the near future, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada is planning to conduct an audit on outreach activities by the Government of Canada to vulnerable populations.

Visit our Sustainable Development page to learn more about sustainable development and the Office of the Auditor General of CanadaOAG.

Related information

Completion date 11 January 2021
Tabling date 25 February 2021
Related audits