Canada Learning Bond- Letters to Families on March 16

Submitted by Ian Gerbrandt on March 8, 2012 - 10:12pm
Help will be needed for this opportunity to reach intended families

On March 16th the federal government is sending letters to an initial group of 19,838 families to tell them their children are entitled to free money towards their future education. The Canada Learning Bond (CLB) can provide at least $500 to children from low-income homes. 

Like most provinces, uptake of the CLB in Manitoba has been low. In 2010, six years after its introduction, the uptake of the CLB in Manitoba is only 19% or 10,010 children. There are 42,626 children entitled to this benefit who are not receiving it.

Like all government benefits or incentives, there are 3 factors at play:

1)      People need to know the program exists

2)      People need to feel they meet the criteria to be eligible

3)      People need to navigate the system to register for the benefit

Navigating systems, and completing the required forms has proven to be a challenge for many families: people have lost their ID during sudden moves or losses; there is lack of credit unions or banks close to households; people face barriers with reading or English; people don’t feel welcome at banks or fear there will be hidden fees; people feel overwhelmed by the investment choices; and other barriers.

Two quick questions to determine if a child you know is eligible:

1)      Is the child born in 2004 or later?

2)      Has the child’s family received the National Child Benefit (net income of $41,544 or less)?

We are going to try our best to promote this opportunity for families, and we need your help to reach the families you know or serve. By talking to parents about the CLB and by having practical how-to information on hand for parents, you can help a family turn this letter into money for their child’s future.

Below are some useful resources on this topic:

·         Information Sheet and Supports from SEED Winnipeg http://seedwinnipeg.ca/programs/detail/building-blocks

·         Money Matters- A Plain English RESP Handbook http://abclifeliteracy.ca/files/MM_RESP_Handbook.pdf

·         Smartsaver http://www.smartsaver.org/

·         Maytree Report- More Than Money http://maytree.com/spotlight/more-than-money.html

·         How good intention leads to bad policy http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/the-economists/how-good-intention-leads-to-bad-policy/article1858352/

All the Best!

Ian

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