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N.W.T., Ottawa to spend $4.6 million to enhance wages for early childhood educators

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YELLOWKNIFE — The Northwest Territories and federal governments have announced $4.6 million in funding between 2022 and 2024 to enhance wages for early childhood educators in the territory.

Licensed early learning and child-care programs will receive more than $12,700 per full-time equivalent in the first year and $16,250 in the second.

The territory says the recruitment and retention incentive is available to about 300 educators.

The N.W.T. government signed a $51-million, five-year child-care agreement with the federal government in December.

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It aims to reduce child-care fees to $10 a day and create 230 new spaces by 2026.

Early learning and child-care providers have criticized the initial rollout of the funding, saying it failed to prioritize staff shortages and the lack of available spaces.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2022.

 

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How to apply for Canada's new rental and dental benefits – CTV News

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Starting on Thursday, eligible Canadians can apply through the Canada Revenue Agency to receive funding as part of the first ever federal dental-care program, and as of Dec. 12 applications will open for low-income renters looking to access the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit.

On Nov. 17 the NDP-backed Liberal affordability bill bringing in both the dental-care benefit and rental boost for lower-income Canadians—known as Bill C-31—became law. At the time, the government committed to having the application process launched before the end of the year.

On Wednesday, the federal financial agency briefed reporters on how the system will work for Canadians looking to apply for these benefits, billing the system as “streamlined and user-friendly.”

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The CRA says it will only take a couple of minutes to apply, because there are some upfront verification built into the system, including checking if your 2021 tax return has been filed.

Here’s what you need to know.

WHAT IS THE “CANADA DENTAL BENEFIT”?

For now, the “Canada Dental Benefit” will be offered to children under the age of 12, with an annual family income of less than $90,000, with the amount provided per child per year dependant on family income.

For example:

  • $650 would be provided per child if the family’s adjusted net income is under $70,000;
  • $390 would be provided per child if the family’s adjusted net income is between $70,000 and $79,999; and
  • $260 would be provided per child if the family’s adjusted net income is between $80,000 and $89,999.

The amount offered is the government’s “best calibration” of how much funding is needed to cover basic dental care—exams, cleanings, X-rays, and fillings— without much left over, according to government officials who briefed reporters on the program in September.

The first phase of dental care will provide eligible parents or guardians with “direct, up-front tax-free payments to cover dental expenses.”

This interim dental benefit is only available for two periods, and parents or caregivers can receive a maximum of two payments for each eligible child.

The first period covers expenses retroactive to Oct. 1, 2022, through to June 30, 2023. The second period will cover dental services the child received between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024.

If a child’s dental care costs more than $650 and the parent or guardian has only applied for one benefit period, they may meet the criteria for an additional payment.

HOW TO APPLY FOR DENTAL COVERAGE

Applicants will have two options to access the online portal: either through their CRA “My Account” or through their Service Canada account. For those without access to the online systems, the CRA is setting up a dedicated dental benefit phone line to receive applications.

Either way, those applying will have to make a series of attestations in order to determine eligibility, as well as answer security questions to verify their identity.

For example, parents or guardians making the application will have to confirm:

  • Their child was born on or after Dec. 2, 2010, making them 12 years old as of Dec. 1, 2022;
  • They are currently receiving the Canada Child Benefit as of Dec. 1, 2022;
  • Their child does not have access to private dental care coverage nor are their costs fully covered by another dental program provided by any other level of government;
  • They will have out-of-pocket dental care expenses for which they will use the benefit; and
  • They have filed their 2021 income tax and benefit return.

Applicants can submit to receive this financial support ahead of appointments, but will have to provide proof of eligibility such as contact information for the dental service provider, date of the appointment, and information related to their employer and spouse or partner related to their benefit coverage.

The CRA is highly recommending signing up for direct deposit as the fastest and easiest way to receive this funding, noting that the estimated wait time for payments is five business days if signed up for direct deposit, whereas it could take 10 business days to receive a cheque by mail.

The law has also set up a process for bureaucrats to check eligibility information—including contacting employers—and there could be penalties for those who submit fraudulent claims. The CRA is encouraging those who apply to print and save a copy of their applications as well as any relevant documentation such as receipts, in case verification is needed down the line.

For example, if for some reason a parent or guardian applies for funding in the first period but does not end up having dental care expenses during that timeframe, they will be required to repay that amount and reapply for the second eligibility period.

While only those under 12 years old will get access for now, the government says it remains committed to following through on seeing this stop-gap measure become a fully-fledged national dental care plan by 2025.

WHAT ABOUT THE “CANADA HOUSING BENEFIT” TOP-UP?

A for sale sign outside a home indicates that it has been rented, in Ottawa, on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The other form of federal funding that eligible Canadians can soon access is the one-time $500 top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit. The application process for this funding will launch on Monday, Dec. 12, according to the CRA.

This is a program for low-income renters with adjusted net incomes below $35,000 for families, or $20,000 for individuals who pay at least 30 per cent of their adjusted net income on rent and are paying rent for their own primary residence in Canada.

In order to receive this $500 payment to help cover rent, applicants need to confirm they:

  • Have filed their 2021 income tax and benefit return;
  • Are at least 15 years of age as of Dec. 1, 2022;
  • Are a resident in Canada for tax purposes in 2022;
  • Have their principal residence in Canada as of Dec. 1, 2022;
  • Have paid rent for their own shelter in 2022; and
  • Have paid at least 30 per cent of their 2021 adjusted net family income on rent in the 2022 calendar year.

Applicants need to be ready to provide some basic information such as their address, who they paid rent to and how to contact that person, as well as how many months spent at certain residences if they’ve moved throughout the year.

Same as with the dental benefit, the CRA is suggesting direct deposit as the fastest and easiest way to receive this funding. The estimated wait time for payments is five business days if signed up for direct deposit, whereas it could take 10 business days to receive a cheque by mail.

Here too, applicants will have to keep any relevant documentation to back up their application in case the CRA comes calling in the next six years to validate their eligibility. This includes tax slips, rental property receipts, and landlord contact information.

Applicants found to be ineligible will be required to repay the benefit. 

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Dutch man who harassed B.C. teenager Amanda Todd returned to the Netherlands

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Dutch man who harassed B.C. teenager Amanda Todd returned to the Netherlands

The man convicted of harassing and extorting British Columbia teenager Amanda Todd has been returned to the Netherlands, where the prosecution office says a judge will decide if he serves any of his 13-year Canadian sentences.

Canada’s Justice Department says Aydin Coban was taken back to his home country on Nov. 24, where he will continue serving a nearly 11-year sentence imposed by a Dutch court in 2017 for similar crimes involving more than 30 youths.

Coban was extradited to Canada in 2020 to face charges including extortion, harassment and distribution of child pornography related to Todd, who was 15 when she died by suicide at her home in Port Coquitlam, B.C., in October 2012.

Evert Boerstra, press officer with the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service, says a so-called “conversion hearing” will take place now that Coban has been returned, and the court will decide how his Canadian sentence will be converted to Dutch standards.

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Boerstra says it will be up to a judge to decide whether Coban will serve the 13-year sentence given to him by a B.C. Supreme Court judge last month, after he finishes his Dutch sentence, which was the maximum that could be imposed.

The press officer says because of the similarity between both cases “there is a chance that after conversion there will be no room left to impose punishment in addition to the Dutch sentence as a result of the Canadian verdict.”

In an email, Boerstra says a date for that hearing has yet to be announced.

Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother, has said she knew at the start of Coban’s nine-week trial in B.C. last June that any sentence would be converted once he returned to the Netherlands.

But it wasn’t until a Dutch reporter contacted her after Coban was convicted in August that Todd said she learned it’s possible he may not serve his Canadian sentence because he was already serving the maximum Dutch term for similar crimes committed around the same time he was harassing her daughter.

Todd has said the Dutch reporter spoke with lawyers who indicatedDutch law also stipulates when someone is convicted and sentenced, then found guilty of the same kind of offence in the same time period, the existing punishment applies.

Todd reached out to Crown prosecutors in B.C. after the publication of the Dutch journalist’s story and they verified that was the law, she said in a recent interview.

During Coban’s trial in New Westminster, B.C., the jury heard he used 22 online aliases to harass Amanda over two years, starting when she was 12 years old.

The trial heard Coban sent photos to Amanda’s family, friends and school administrators of her exposing her breasts because she didn’t comply with his demands to perform sexual “shows” in front of a web camera.

The teenager died by suicide a few weeks after posting a video in which she used flash cards to describe being tormented by an online predator.

Todd said her daughter would have turned 26 over the weekend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2022.

 

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

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Ottawa to spend $1.2 million to replace and repair homes after mass stabbing

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The federal government is to spend $1.2 million to repair and replace houses damaged during a mass stabbing in Saskatchewan nearly three months ago.

Houses became crime scenes after 11 people died and 18 were injured on the James Smith Cree Nation and nearby village of Weldon during the Sept. 4 attacks.

Myles Sanderson, the 32-year-old suspect in the attacks, later died in police custody.

Indigenous Services Canada said $750,000 will be used for replacement, repairs and restoration of homes damaged during the massacre. The repairs are expected to be completed by mid-December, the department said in an email.

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Chief Wally Burns has said four of the affected homes cannot be repaired. Some of the funding will be used for replacement ready-to-move homes, he said, but it will be some time before they are habitable.

“The housing is there,” Burns said Monday during a news conference on the First Nation. “The transition from here to there, it takes a long time.”

Indigenous Services Canada said 16 homes have been cleaned at an expected cost of $203,000. That covers cleaning 14 homes on the reserve, one in Weldon and one in Wakaw.

An additional $200,000 was provided to replace furniture and $40,000 was set aside for a housing co-ordinator.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said the government will support families who are still waiting to return home.

“Building a house can’t happen overnight, unfortunately,” she said Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the First Nation of about 1,900 people 170 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, on Monday and announced $40 million over the next six years to build a wellness centre and repurpose a lodge. He also announced funding for community-based safety projects and treatments for substance abuse.

Since the tragedy, Indigenous leaders have talked about how housing is connected to health.

Burns said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened overcrowding in housing on the First Nation. Combined with the stabbing rampage, it’s left a lot of people feeling anxiety, he said.

“That’s not healthy,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2022.

— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon

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