Three billion dollars worth of government cheques were sent to millions of Canadian parents on Monday morning – just a few months shy of election day.
The cash infusions, going to roughly 3.8 million families, are due to the recent changes to the Conservative government’s universal child-care benefit.
While the MPs and Conservative cabinet ministers were touting the news across the country, Canadian parents and non-parents turned to social media with their reactions.
Last fall’s announcement included a couple of changes to the universal child-care benefit, including:
- $160 a month (up from $100) for children under six
- a new $60-a-month payment for seven- to 17-year-olds
- catch-up payments for the first six months
The online campaign has been going strong for the past few weeks, with announcements and press releases, including countdowns to the payments. It has included videos explaining the changes to the program, a visit to the cheque printer in Winnipeg and attempts to find families not registered for the program.
Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers also took to social media to publicize the change, especially Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre.
Moms and dads, if you got your child care money, please let us know by posting on twitter! Want to make sure it arrived!— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) July 19, 2015
Parents and non-parents alike took to social media, as asked, with their reactions. The hashtags #YourKidsYourProblem and #UCCB started trending, although, not necessarily with the tone the Conservative government may have hoped for.
The online tide started to turn, targeting the use of the phrase “Christmas in July”.
Hate how commercial Christmas in July has become. #UCCB— Michael Gendron (@michaelgendron) July 20, 2015
Others took issue with Poilievre’s use of “Moms and Dads”.
@PierrePoilievre How about moms & moms? Dads & dads? Single moms? Single dads? Working poor? CPC don't reflect Canada's reality.— PatRiotchick (@PatOndabak) July 20, 2015
@PierrePoilievre Because couples without children don't have the same bills to pay?— Oz Ghent (@LittleOzz) July 19, 2015
Some people were thankful for the extra boost to their bank accounts.
Many others, however, condemned the policy, calling it vote-buying.
"Moms & dads, if you got your VOTE-BUYING money, please let us know..." @PierrePoilievre— David Hayes (@TimesRoman) July 20, 2015
The universal child-care benefit was first proposed by the conservative government in 2006 as an alternative to Liberal prime minister Paul Martin’s call for a national daycare program. Some parents rebuked the payments and instead, called for a national childcare program.
.@PierrePoilievre Yeah, I got it. I'd give it all back, and more, for a national daycare plan, which would actually make a difference.— Rob Quinlan (@r_quinla) July 20, 2015
.@PierrePoilievre yeah I got it alright. But it doesn't even begin to cover child care expenses. National daycare program more useful.— Monica Rooney (@monicarooney) July 20, 2015
With files from Barrie McKenna and Bill Curry